Meet Emerson Hospital’s Singing Valets
Since his very first day at Concord’s Emerson Hospital, Robert Nyekan has been singing.
“It just felt like the right thing to do,” he says. “I feel as though it’s hard to be in a bad mood while singing, so why not use the gift God gave me and make other peoples’ days better?”
Nyekan isn’t a music therapist or a professional entertainer, though—he’s one of Emerson’s Towne Park valets, tasked with greeting and assisting patients, visitors, and staff as they walk from the parking lot to the hospital. But a simple hello isn’t enough for Nyekan and his colleague, Shayne Bowen. Instead, they serenade passersby.
“Singing to others always seems to bring out a cheerfulness in them,” Bowen says. “I feel it gives them a warm feeling, especially this time of year. Being at a hospital, I have no idea what patients and visitors are here for, but I’m always trying to put a smile on their faces.”
During the holidays, the duo specializes in Christmas carols, from “Jingle Bells” to “It’s Christmas.” Otherwise, their impromptu concerts include songs of all genres. Sometimes, Bowen says, the singing valets even take requests.
“I was helping a patient get out of the vehicle when she asked if I knew one of her favorites,” he remembers. “I didn’t know it at the time and I apologized that I didn’t know. So while she was in her appointment…I looked up the song and on her way out, I began to sing it. It really made her day, and mine as well.”
Such performances are simple enough, but they go a long way—both for Emerson patients, and for Nyekan and Bowen.
“I can remember the very first time I sang to a lady here. It made me love my job because I got to witness, first-hand, how my greeting and personality could impact others’ lives,” Nyekan says. “Just seeing the smiles that I put on peoples’ faces as they enter or leave the hospital makes it all worth it.”
Hear the pair sing in this video: