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Harriet's loving husband John passed away in 2008 at age 87.

Above: Harriet celebrates her 39+ birthday with friends in February 2012
(thanks to Diane and John Dalsimer and to Margaret Green for the photos).

Above: Harriet is awarded an honorary doctorate degree
from Susquehanna University in April 2011.

Adapted largely from an article by Phyllis J. Neuberger
The Pelican, Pompano Beach, FL - December 24, 2010

They call Harriet Mertz "The Diva" because she takes center stage with her music, drama and show business sparkle. Harriet Mertz is a music director, professional voice instructor, singer, pianist, and actress. When she sweeps into a room and bursts into song, it's easy to see why she's known by show business pals as "Jerry Herman's Auntie Mame."

Mertz arrived at John Knox Village (JKV) in 2007 with her beloved husband John who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Having been his sole caretaker for 11 years, she reluctantly turned over John's care to The Village Glen (JKV's memory loss center), but she spent many hours every day entertaining there. "John sat in his wheelchair, smiling and blowing kisses to me, even though I'm not sure he knew I was the love of his life," she says. "It was amazing to me how much the other residents enjoyed my singing and piano. Many never spoke, but they sang and hummed along with me, and even tapped their feet, keeping the beat."

When John passed away in 2008, Mertz became the volunteer music director of The Village Chorus, a group of 35 women who love to sing, have fun and entertain. The group, renamed The Note-ables, rehearse every week, coming for what they call their "fix." Note-ables They perform in concert twice a month in the Village and they take their talents on the road by invitation. Just this year they have traveled by bus, bringing their sounds of music to Christ Methodist Church, Temple Beth-El in Boca, First Christian Church in Wilton Manors, National Federation Music Club of the Palm Beaches, North Broward Citizen's Club and more.

Watch The Note-ables

"I feel we are marketing tool for JKV every time we make an appearance," Mertz smiles. "After all we are just one example of the fun activities and friendships enjoyed every day by residents of the Village. We are all volunteers and accept no payment. One church pastor pressed a $100 check into my hand and I donated it right back to his church choir. The pastor was delighted to be able to buy new music for his own group."

Do all the members of The Note-ables have good voices? Not at all, according to Mertz. "In fact," she says, "my three best singers didn't think they could sing at all. I teach voice physiologically because we are all individuals and no one sings exactly like another. I have had a long career teaching voice. Singing is just sound. Voice is controlling and focusing the sound. It's Bel canto which is singing on the vowels. My method of teaching voice shows how good tone quality is produced. It begin and ends with correct breathing which emanates from the diaphragm."

She continues, "I'm not too demanding of my Note-ables, but as a professional voice teacher, my standards are high. I still have students who are in the Master Choral of the Palm Beaches coming for lessons. I'm proud to say that three of my former voice students are on Broadway right now."

Mertz has a Master's Degree in Music Education from the University of Miami; an Education Specialist Degree in Communications from Vanderbilt University, and a degree in Library Science from Columbia University in Columbia, Mo. She was the television and audiovisual media specialist/coordinator in South Miami Senior High and has served as Adjunct professor for the University of Miami and Palm Beach Atlantic University. She has taught at Kyoto University of Japan and taken postgraduate work at Chenchi University in Taiwan. She's proud to have drafted Student Perfomance Standards for Television Production for the State of Florida.

Mertz has many stories about meeting and working with some famous show business personalities. She instituted the first studio production for Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emillio at her own Electronic Media School in Miami. Her eyes sparkle with excitement when she recalls doing a guest appearance with Minnie Pearl at the Grand Old Opera House. "My biggest thrill was producing "An Evening with Jerry Herman" in Miami prior to its Broadway opening. Through Jerry, I had the pleasure of meeting many talented stars. Andrea Mcardle was starring in Annie in Miami. She had a voice problem and I actually gave her a voice lesson over the phone. The second one was in person. I did the same with Mary Martin in Miami. Jerry Herman tops my list of favorite celebrities. We talk every few weeks. I'm getting a real kick out of the fact that he now lives on Sunset Boulevard in California."

Thank you, Harriet Mertz, for sharing your talents with the world around you.


HarrietMertz.com is supported entirely with private funds, and is for entertainment and educational purposes only.