Ravens sing a different tune at senior center

  • Justin Harper sings "My Way" with Madeline Daniels, left, and Ellie Witty, center, at Oak Crest Village retirement community.
Justin Harper sings "My Way" with Madeline Daniels,… (Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara…)
November 03, 2009|By Joe Burris | Baltimore Sun reporter

Derrick Mason can carry a football much better than he can carry a tune. But on Tuesday, the Ravens veteran wide receiver did his best to serenade seniors at the Oak Crest Retirement Community in Parkville like a crooner from the doo-wop era.

Flanked by Ravens backup quarterback John Beck, tight end Edgar Jones and practice squad wide receiver Justin Harper, Mason delighted a crowd of about 75 guests with a lively karaoke show, the second time in as many years that he has chosen the community center for an unconventional way to connect with Ravens fans.

Mason, who by his own admission sings off key, performed with his teammates for about two hours, as they sang solos, duets and quartets. And when he wasn't singing, Mason filled the room with laughter by heckling his teammates' solo acts. When Jones staged a loud, voice-cracking rendition of Creed's "With Arm Wide Open," Mason yelled, "I wish I had my ears wide shut. I thought I was bad."

Yet you could scarcely tell they were bad by the response of the crowd. They clapped their hands, tapped their feet and sang right along. Most came decked out in purple and black gear -- from sweat shirts to woolen scarfs -- and some even donned Ravens players' jerseys.

"Last year when he came out we had a ball," said resident Ellie Witty just before Mason took the stage Tuesday. "It's wonderful."

Mason appears to have as much fun as the seniors during the event. Active in Baltimore-area communities, he said he tries to connect with as many age groups as possible. The karaoke show, he says, allows him to reach out to a generation of Ravens fans often overlooked in community-oriented events.

But he added that often it's not easy singing before a packed room -- even if it's for fun.

Prior to last year's karaoke event, he said the last time he had sung before audiences was twice during vacation outings. "And at that time, I knew I was singing in front of a group that would never see me again," he said. "Here, I'm performing for people who watch me every Sunday. There's a lot of pressure on you to go and bring your 'A' game.

"Well, I don't have an 'A" game when it comes to singing," he added, "so I go out and try to bring my F-plus game. I enjoy it. We did a few stops last year, and I was glad to come back here again this year." Mason kicked off the show with a spirited version of Lionel Richie's upbeat tune, "All Night Long."

Then Beck did a solo performance of the Temptations song, "The Way You Do The Things You Do," and Jones followed with another Temptations hit, "I Wish It Would Rain." Mason then led the group singing

Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You."

Even Oak Crest residents got into the act. Among them was Nancy Leggiadro, who thrilled the crowd when she sang the Dean Martin's tune "Return to Me" to Mason. "You can't get older in this place, we have so much fun," said Leggiadro, who will be 84 next month. She also sang a duet with Mason last year.

The event was held in the community's Acorn Pub, where some residents gather on Sunday to watch Ravens games. Oak Crest public relations manager Jeff Getek said that karaoke events are held at the community each month.

"Our residents are great sports fans who love to have fun," said Getek. "We're doing this in a setting that you wouldn't normally equate with a retirement community. For them, it's a natural thing."

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