VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Members of the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus sing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Members of the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus sing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Debbie Parmenter directs her ‘carbershop’ choir, the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus, in the driveway while the ladies sing from their cars in order to follow health restrictions. (Jennifer Smith - Calendar)Debbie Parmenter directs her ‘carbershop’ choir, the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus, in the driveway while the ladies sing from their cars in order to follow health restrictions. (Jennifer Smith - Calendar)

Navigating current health restrictions has forced many people to abandon group activities. But a group of ladies with a love for music were driven to find a way to still sing together.

Donna Erdman has been singing in the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus for 25 years.

“It’s a positive spirit builder,” said the senior tenor, whose sister Audrey Cunningham also sings with the choir.

The chorus, which is part of Sweet Adalines, had been getting routinely until the pandemic struck and indoor gatherings were cancelled.

But that didn’t stop the ladies, who simply went outside to sing.

A sour note struck when gatherings outside your bubble were banned, silencing the singers.

Director Debbie Parmenter was determined to find a way to bring the group together.

“Music is our reason for living,” said Parmenter.

READ MORE: It’s the little chorus that could, and did

For some of the choir members, the choir is their outlet, passion and only social interaction. Without it, Erdman admits, she did nothing.

Singing along to a recording wasn’t enough. And singing independently and bringing the voices together electronically just wasn’t the same either.

“It’s a soul to soul thing that you just can’t do on the computer,” Parmenter said. “You can’t sing on Zoom, it sucks.”

That’s when Parmenter saw something unique. A choir in Saskatchewan got creative, and technical, allowing everyone to safely follow social distancing protocols by singing in their cars.

“It’s remarkably easy once you know how, the hard part was having the courage to just buy the stuff,” said Parmenter.

She initially thought it was far too technical for her skill set, but now says “it’s pretty fool proof.”

So now the ladies have half a dozen practices under their belt performing ‘carbershop’ style.

“I think that music is especially helpful during COVID because COVID has been so isolating,” Erdman said. “At least this way we’ve kept contact with one another and we’re singing together again.”

Parmenter hopes that other choir directors will see what they are doing and do the same, bringing music back into more people’s lives amid these challenging times.

The chorus also has room to adopt more singers. Anyone interested can reach out via their Facebook page Vernon Kalamalka Chorus Sweet Adalines.

Eventually, the singers would like to be able to roll up to senior residences and get them to tune into their station and hear the live performances.

“Then even the bedridden ones can hear us on the radio,” said Regina Picco, who hosts the car choir at her home, while she tunes in and sings from her trailer.

READ MORE: B.C.-wide #DayofMusic to feature 100-plus free virtual concerts May 15


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Arts and EntertainmentCoronavirusMusic

Just Posted

(Pixabay.com photo)
No COVID-19 baby boom in Summerland

Pandemic has not resulted in surge in births in 2020 and 2021

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

People at the beach in front of Discovery Bay Resort on Tuesday, July 14. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Heat wave forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Temperatures are forecast to hit record breaking highs this week

Tony Costa/ Facebook
UPDATE: Out-of-control fire burning above Peachland

The blaze sparked on Sunday and is believed to be lightning caused

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

Most Read