Coronavirus Chronicles: Edmonds singer pivots around COVID  

Elizabeth Galafa

Dinner and a show are back on the menu, according to Edmonds resident Elizabeth Galafa, who is doing her best to return to a normal life after a year when singing on a public stage has been difficult if not impossible.

Now, as things are beginning to open up, the singer is eager to show her community how she and other local artists have been able to adjust to circumstances created by the pandemic over the last year. She feels immensely grateful that an opportunity has emerged for her to again take the stage in a virtual event, The Vineyard Cabaret, a “A Gourmet Dinner and Virtual Show”, that rolls out in the Seattle area from April 22 to April 24.

Galafa sings part time with Premier Vocal Entertainment (PVE), a women- and Black-owned company based out of Kirkland. PVE’s owner, Cheryse McLeod Lewis, has partnered with local catering company Gourmondo to produce a fun, family-friendly event: a COVID safe “dinner and a show” that music lovers can attend in their homes.

Fine entertainment is paired with a tasty, gourmet meal delivered directly to people’s front doors. The Taste of Gourmondo dinner box showcases a delicious tour of the catering company’s favorite flavors and contains two bento plates per box. Meal options include either meat or vegetarian/vegan.

Galafa is one of the four Seattle-based professional singers featured in The Vineyard Cabaret, and they will perform the best of musical theatre: jazz, opera, and pop.

“Our virtual show is a lovely combination of classic vocal jazz songs, musical theatre hits, and opera’s greatest selections,” says Galafa. “Cheryse makes it a top priority to hire amazingly talented, female artists of color on every project she tackles within her company. I always feel supported and taken care of when working under her.”

Among the numbers Galafa will sing are the sultry “Seguidilla” aria, from the one of the world’s most beloved operas, Carmen; and a super fun, light number, “Vanilla Ice Cream,” from the musical She Loves Me.

“I have been singing with Premier Vocal Entertainment since 2018,” Galafa says. “Cheryse and I met while singing in the Seattle Opera Chorus together and we have been working together on several projects ever since.”

In addition to giving fine dining and theater patrons a taste of an evening out on the town, this collaboration gives patrons the opportunity to support the arts, professional singers and a Seattle-based catering company all at the same time.

Galafa reached out to McCloud Lewis to find out how The Vineyard Cabaret represents progress made by Black/women-owned businesses, especially in the local community.

“She told me that two female-owned businesses teaming up to build on the strengths of their respective companies—top-tier vocal entertainment and gourmet food—speaks to the innovative, outside-the-box thinking that women bring to running a successful business,” Galafa explains. “This ‘Dinner and a Show’ collaboration also represents the creativity that is necessary for performing artists and catering companies to survive the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses.”

Adapting to pandemic conditions has been a challenge for everyone. But the performing arts have suffered greater losses in livelihood and soul fulfillment than most other businesses, and the pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on catering companies as well. Both rely on large groups of people gathering for events. Nonetheless, Galafa feels that her efforts and those of her collaborators have been remarkably successful.

“When we went to film the Vineyard Cabaret, that was the first time since February of 2020 that I was performing live with some of my colleagues. We all took COVID tests beforehand, to ensure we could work safely indoors. We all wore masks when we weren’t singing.”

Galafa’s personal experiences navigating the troubled waters of the pandemic have been challenging as well.

“I indeed had to pivot like many, to survive this pandemic,” she says. “Since March of 2020, I took on a fourth job—crazy, I know! — to basically replace any lost income from canceled performances. I now teach online Spanish classes through a Washington state non-profit, Foreign Language for Youth.”

Like many others, the situation necessitated moving Galafa’s pre-COVID voice students online, teaching them via Skype, and taking her own weekly Skype lessons with a teacher in Miami. She’s become accustomed to her online presence but is also ready to go back to in-person activities, both performing and teaching, once it is safe to do so.

“Although I am a fan of virtual concerts, and I do think they should remain as an option post-COVID, nothing will replace hearing singers live in a concert hall, an arena, or at a bar,” she affirms.

Galafa, who teaches at Alley Bell Music in downtown Edmonds, also feels proud to be representing the town of Edmonds in the Vineyard Cabaret.

“I love this town! Not only am I a local singer, but I am also a local music teacher,” she declares. “My husband and I both grew up in Orlando, Fla., and we have been living in the state of Washington since 2015. We moved to Edmonds in 2018 because it was the first town that felt like home!”

The lessons of the past year extend to Galafa’s personal life as well. She and her husband have been proud to make some changes in their shopping routines: for example, shopping locally.

“COVID-19 has taught me how important it is to shop small and support local businesses,” she says. “My husband and I try our best to shop in Edmonds before we go online now.”

Most importantly, Galafa remains hopeful that culture-starved food and music lovers will turn out for this unique event.

“The Edmonds community has really come together during this time,’ Galafa says. “I hope they will support performing artists like myself, PVE, and Gourmondo this month and purchase tickets to The Vineyard Cabaret: Gourmet Dinner & a Virtual Show!”

Information and tickets to The Vineyard Cabaret: Gourmet Dinner and a Virtual Show can be found at http://PVE-Events.Eventbrite.com.             ­­

— By Erica Miner

This article is part of an ongoing series exploring the impact of coronavirus on the life, work and health of South Snohomish County residents. If you or someone you know has a story to tell, please email us at myedmondsnews@gmail.com. For other stories in this series, click here.

 

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