If you've ever heard the Raleigh-based Victorian Carolers sing at a local mall, tree lighting or party during the Christmas season, you can thank financial guru Dave Ramsey.
Paula and Johnny Walters were taking his Financial Peace University courses several years ago at their church when one of his suggestions struck a chord (so to speak). He recommends people consider making extra income by using their hobby.
The couple loves music and singing. Paula has a degree in voice performance and teaches private voice and piano lessons. And her husband comes from a very musical family. They also love the Victorian era and Christmas. They traveled to London and Scotland for their honeymoon after getting married during the Christmas season.
"We feel like we were born a century too late," Paula Walters tells me. Raleigh caroling group takes songs to White House
So they combined their two passions and started The Victorian Carolers, a four-part a cappella singing group, in 2005. Paula, a mom of three in Louisburg, is director. The group, which includes nine singers, dresses in Dickensian costumes and performs only during the Christmas season.
You may have seen them on Friday evenings at The Streets at Southpoint and at the kickoff for Raleigh Winterfest earlier this month. The group's weekends are booked with private parties. And this week, they'll be entertaining holiday travelers at Raleigh Durham International Airport.
But their biggest gig came Dec. 6 when the group traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform at the White House. Paula had applied for the spot in the spring, but didn't learn that they'd actually get to go until last month. The group performed for White House visitors and also got a tour of the building.
"It was like being a kid on Christmas morning," she said of performing. "You didn't know what to expect."
Walters didn't get to see President Barack Obama, though she may have briefly spotted the feet of one of his daughters. Obama arrived during their performance, requiring them to move out of the room they were singing in briefly so he could go upstairs to his residence. The group returned and, since there were children in the crowd, started singing some kid-friendly songs. That's when she saw a bit of motion on the steps and some Secret Service agents ushering somebody back up.
"We saw some feet," she said.
For Walters, the White House experience was just icing on the cake. She loves making music. She loves getting dressed up in the Victorian-era gowns. She loves performing with friends. And she and her husband, a middle school teacher, love having another outlet for their music.
"It's fun," said Walters, who also owns The Music House in Louisburg. "We love it. It's kind of like date night for us even though we're working."
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