The dulcet melody held the audience spellbound by the captivating sound of her voice. The listeners were completely enchanted and delighted.
“Love, soft as an easy chair
Love, fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by two
I have found with you ...
Two lives that shine as one
Morning glory and midnight sun
Time we’ve learned to sail above
Time won’t change the meaning of one love
Ageless and ever evergreen.”
And Timiethea DeLaney had done what she did best. She used her God-given talent of song to make people happy and to spread the ministry of the Lord. She most recently was asked to sing the song “Evergreen,” popularized by Barbra Streisand, at a Bradley Sunrise Rotary meeting during the holiday season.
“I’ve been singing all my life. It’s a reward for me, being able to bring such joy,” DeLaney said.
She admits, she never had formal instruction on how to sing. It was a gift from God. She just wanted to share God’s gift with others.
“When I hear the customer say how special the singing telegram made them, I feel blessed I am doing God’s will,” she offered. “His will is that we have a merry heart.”
Known by friends and colleagues for years now for her work as a singing server at the Chattanooga Choo Choo’s Station House Restaurant, her nickname has long been “Songbird” — and that’s what people who have ever heard her sing still call her.
And that’s how she came to start her own business. First, people who heard her sing at the restaurant or saw her in her singing costumes would ask if she would sing for them. After she appeared in a local newspaper five years ago, that’s when she started thinking she should become and entrepreneur. Now she is asked to sing for birthdays, anniversaries, get-well wishes, congratulations and holidays such as Valentine’s Day. She also has CDs available. And, in addition to the role of providing a “singing telegram,” she makes custom-made gift baskets for these occasions as well.
She has worked with Lauren Alaina and Chastity Cross, and has also met Ruben Studdard, all from “American Idol.” Studdard and DeLaney met when they both were at a sickle-cell anemia benefit in Chattanooga.
She also received the title of National Tennessee Country Gospel Artist and Entertainer for both 2008 and 2009. Most recently, she met world-renowned singer Mary J. Blige at a “Good Morning America” taping. She was a guest in the audience because she was one of “The Shining Stars” chosen by The Road to Stardom Productions Co. in New York, with Jane Harley as the producer.
DeLaney has been singing at The Worlds Church of the Living God, in Chattnooga, all her life. She also works with students at various schools in the area to use her singing talents to help mentor and motivate them. But the most heartfelt and meaningful use of her singing is for her outreach, gospel and ministry programs at which testimony is shared. Some of her outreach requests have come from area prisons at which she sings and provides testimony of how she was able to survive some difficult teenage years and how she found her way to the Lord. As she testifies, singing was God’s way of bringing her to Him.
“And it’s a wonderful way to bring joy to people,” she said. “And being a singing telegram singer is a lot of fun. It’s exciting.”
She never knows what type of reaction she’ll get from the recipient of her song or the crowd that usually gathers when she delivers an unexpected melody. Most people have never had a singing telegram delivered to them.
“Sometimes they cry, sometimes they turn beet red,” DeLaney explained. “You just never know. It’s always fun. It’s always a surprise.”
DeLaney also offers singing telegrams dressed in costumes, such as Cuddly the Cat for children. Cuddly is a plump, full-figured cat inspired by DeLaney’s watching of the Broadway play “Cats.”
Lovely the Clown is another one of her personas.
“People love clowns, especially for children’s parties,” she said.
Berry Blue Butterfly and Jolly the Elf are two more costumes she offers in her repertoire for children, but Miss Poodle Poodle (poodle skirt theme) is often requested by nostalgic adults who want to relive and commemorate the 1950s and ’60s genre.
“I do a lot of ’50s and ’60s tunes,” she said.
In fact, most of her clientele are adults, so she often goes just as herself, the songstress. And some of her most frequently requested tunes include “Come Fly With Me,” originally by Frank Sinatra; “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” by Rod Stewart; “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang; and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper.
Because people love her singing so much, over the years, she has occasionally been asked back to sing to entire companies. Another time, the entire office came to listen and to dance with DeLaney. Another time still, she was asked for an encore of the song she just delivered.
One man surprised his girlfriend with a song from DeLaney while his girlfriend was getting her hair cut. Another boyfriend wanted to apologize to his girlfriend and had DeLaney break the ice first by singing “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?”, as well as giving his girlfriend a dozen roses.
“He got out of the doghouse,” DeLaney confirmed.
“I want to make sure they are pleased,” she said of her customers.
DeLaney was born in Chattanooga, but has recently moved to Cleveland with her husband, Boaz.
“We love it,” she said.
She is continuing her singing telegram business in Cleveland while she hopes to find additional work in town. She also hopes to join Sunrise Rotary soon.