Noel Signal might be 90 years old with failing eyesight but he can still sing like an angel.
If anything, the former opera and concert performer is singing as well as he ever has. His neighbours in Levin could attest to that.
Signal decided he wanted to sing again 10 years ago, at the tender age of 80, after a break of 40 years.
"I decided I had better do something," he said, and was realistic about how long his voice would remain strong.
"My voice might go soon, but then, so might I," he said.
"But I work at it every day. The whole body resonates when we sing or talk. You have to keep the body flexible as it makes a sound. The body is like a cello. The vocal chords are the strings, and the bow is the air passing over them."
A few years ago he entered New Zealand's Got Talent, a popular televised variety talent show, and got a standing ovation from a large crowd, finding favour with judges Jason Kerrison, Rachel Hunter and Chris Judd with his rendition of Bring Him Home.
He received high praise from Kerrison in particular.
"I was watching you there, it was like the biggest tree on the highest hill that has seen everything and you wonder what stories that tree would tell you," he said.
"It felt like you were the tree, swaying and sharing those feelings and thoughts with us in its utmost intimacy. It was beautiful, man. I was taken away in the breeze with you."
Signal said his mother was a piano teacher and he grew up around music, and loved it. But he didn't begin performing until he was 29 years old.
He was heard at a singers' workshop and was invited to attend a masterclass with famous English singer Joan Cross. Signal was asked for his name, and the conductor of the national orchestra John Hopkins wondered why he hadn't heard of him before.
He had never performed on stage before. He remembered feeling extremely nervous, an emotion that he would come to negotiate before every performance.
"I was scared, and you never really lose that feeling of apprehension before you go on. But I do think it shows in your performance, that you have a love and appreciation for what you are doing," he said.
"If you lose that, then you've lost it."
In 1959, he was a Mobil Song Quest finalist, and in 1961 was placed third in the same competition. He then spent 10 years singing professionally in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970s.
His opera roles included Prince Yamadore in Madam Butterfly, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore, Jaquino in Fidelio, Tamino in The Magic Flute, and Prunier in Puccini's La Rondine.
In concert he was principal soloist for the NZBC Symphony Orchestra for many years and performed with many choirs and orchestras on both sides of the Tasman.
But the touring life was tough for a self-confessed people person.
"I'm not a loner. I have to have company. You couldn't go out and play up and be fit enough to sing," he said.
And with a growing family, the touring wasn't a good fit, so his career took a back seat for almost half a century.
Now, he is more than obliging in helping fundraising ventures and charity organisations, and is singing at the Masonic Lodge Centre in Parker Ave at Levin on October 2, at invitation of the Levin Music Society.
Signal wants to help charities like the Cancer Society with his singing. He lost his wife of 44 years, June, to cancer just two years ago.
He would sing for free if it would help raise money for these causes, he said, and it was a chance to repay those organisations that helped his wife when she was ill.
Another charity close to his heart is the Blind Institute. His sight had degenerated, he was told, by 60 per cent.
"They are wonderful. They came here the other day to assess what I should be doing," he said.
Signal said he was looking forward to performing with orchestral backing at the October concert in Levin.
Last year he sang at a Kāpiti Armistice Concert where organiser Yemma Barsanti was full of praise.
"I must say you were magnificent. There was not a dry eye in the house. You sang beautifully and poignantly, and with such emotion. It was the perfect song for the moment of the story we were telling," she had said.