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

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

(Contributed)
Collision slows rush hour traffic in Kelowna

Expect delays at K.L.O. Road and Richter Street on your commute Tuesday evening

A conceptual render of the proposed building at 955 Manhattan Drive. (Contributed)
Height not wanted on Kelowna’s Manhattan Drive

City staff said proposed five-storey building poses challenges

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu supported a motion in the B.C. legislature for Canada to create a national Indigenous History month Monday, June 13, 2021. (Contributed)
Canada needs a national Indigenous History Month, Vernon MLA agrees

Harwinder Sandhu supports motion to recognize June as month to advance reconciliation efforts with First Nations

(Facebook)
New trial date set for Penticton beach attacker’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Most Read