TARBORO, NC—During the week, residents at The Fountains at Albemarle can be seen pulling up a chair, tapping their toes or humming along to a tune outside of Tom and Barbara Kane’s apartment. The couple, both 76 years old, turned their second bedroom at the Watermark Retirement Community into a music studio—and they often practice before their Saturday night concerts held in the community’s auditorium, giving their neighbors a sneak peek of what’s to come.
The Kanes are a musical duo known as “The Sweet Loves,” a nickname they were given by friends during their time studying at Florida State University. Their musical love story now has a new chapter at The Fountains at Albemarle, where they have lived since last June.
Every Saturday at 6:30 p.m., they play for a crowd of about 50. Their neighbors stop by to hear their favorite tunes from the 1930s to 1960s. Barbara plays the piano, while Tom handles percussion instruments such as the vibraphone, xylophone and marimba.
“We started to let our friends and neighbors know we were going to have a concert,” said Tom. “Now, it’s become a little bit of a thing. We have made a lot of friends through our music; there is a real sense of community here.”
Music has always been a big part of the Kanes’ lives. They even met through music; Tom was in the college marching band and Barbara was in the orchestra. According to Tom, after “making eyes with each other” while practicing music for school, a joint friend finally introduced them under the stage during their sophomore year. They were married in their senior year.
“Music has been a part of every experience we have together,” said Tom. “We want to share our love for music with others who enjoy it. We just love what we do and feel as though we are getting more out of our concerts than what we are giving.”
Although married for 55 years, the couple never played music together until fairly recently. Barbara earned a master’s degree in music education and taught music and orchestra at schools. Tom graduated with a master’s in city planning and, after working as a city planner for many years, became a software engineer. But, during the pandemic, they turned the extra time together into an opportunity to start playing music.
“We got tired of listening to ourselves, so we moved to Albemarle and now have others listen to us,” said Tom. He and Barbara moved to the community last June. Previously, Barbara’s parents were residents, and she would visit every day and play the piano for the memory care unit. She even donated her piano to the community. Now, a second piano of Barbara’s and Tom’s xylophone sit in the auditorium.
“We were afraid our music would be too loud for our neighbors when we moved here,” said Tom. “But people walk down the hall and stop to tell us how good the music sounds. There’s a lady on the other side of the wall next to us, and she loves hearing our music and has become best friends with Barbara.”
“Tom and Barbara have brought new energy to our community, creating a standing event on Saturday nights that so many of our residents look forward to attending,” said Julie Daugherty, executive director of The Fountains at Albemarle. “We feel like we have the hottest ticket in town, right here in our retirement community.”