Shirley Platon and Allen Fehr had never met when Fehr first heard Platon singing through the walls of an elevator at Seven Oaks Hospital.
"I was singing through the stairwell and then Allen heard it through the elevator," Platon explains, "Then, when we got off on the same floor, he asked if it was me that was coming out of the stairwell."
Platon works as a dispatch aid at the hospital having recently transferred from Seven Oaks Wellness. Fehr is a respiratory therapist.
"I had to confess it was me," Platon laughs.
It wasn't a surprise to their coworkers, Fehr says, when he mentioned the voice he'd heard to others.
"I like to sing all the time," Platon says.
Her singing regularly brings joy to those she works with and those she helps within the hospital, especially since COVID-19 first hit the province in March 2020.
It was the first time Fehr had first heard Platon sing, however. It gave Fehr an idea.
"I have done a couple of other little collaborations with other musicians virtually," Fehr says. "When I heard her singing I thought, 'Well, I wonder if she'd be open to doing (that).'"
Together, Fehr and Platon selected some Christmas carols to perform in hopes that a little holiday duet would spark some Christmas spirit at Seven Oaks.
"The morale at the hospital these days, especially this year, is just not great sometimes. And usually, the hospital is decorated with Christmas and Hannukah stuff ... but this year it's not," Fehr says.
Shirley has been singing for family and in her community since she was a child and Fehr began playing piano when he was five years old.
"Especially when things are difficult, music seems to be really grounding," he explains. "Everybody seems to love music ... it's just sort of part of the human experience."
Fehr recorded his portion of the duet and sent it to Platon to sing along with. After a bit of practicing, a coworker recorded Platon singing the carols in the stairwell at Seven Oaks in her scrubs.
In less than two weeks, Fehr and Platon's duet has been viewed more than 30,000 times.
"I think what it says is people are looking for something that can get their mind off all things COVID this time of year and this kind of gave them permission to do that," Fehr says.
"This young lady really loves to sing in the hospital and I think that's really struck a chord because hospitals right now are really the epicentre of this whole pandemic."
Fehr and Platon both have received many positive and encouraging comments in response to their Christmas duet.
"We're all wearing masks, you can't see the smile but you can hear it in her voice when she's singing," says Fehr.
"It felt good to me that we were able to do that for so many people," Platon says. "There's just been so much negativity and everybody is just really getting fed up with COVID ... I just want everybody to kind relax a little bit, slow down, and remember that it's new for all of us. We're all trying to figure out how to live in a pandemic world."
Platon hopes her duet with Fehr will help to be a reminder for Winnipeggers "to stay human" through the holidays.
"Basically, (for) everybody to love each other. I know that sounds corny, but it's hard to see everybody with so much hate going on ... just try to be unified with music."