Professional singer stages free 'lawncerts' to lift island spirits
OAK BAY -- You won’t hear it on the highway, and if you turn off to a side-street you might mistake it for something else.
“They thought, 'Oh! Our neighbour’s playing loud music again,'” Stephanie recalls somebody saying.
But if you happen to take the right turn down the right road, the song will become so clear you’ll need to have a closer listen.
“I see people open their doors,” Stephanie says, showing the questioning expression on their faces. “[They’re saying], 'This is really weird.'”
And then, if you follow the sound, you may notice an audience gathering – while maintaining physical distancing.
“[They’re] walking closer and closer and realizing I have a microphone in my hand!” Stephanie says with a laugh. “It’s me making that noise!”
It’s Stephanie Greaves singing on the street. The professional was scheduled to perform at 75 events before COVID-19 caused them all to be cancelled.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Stephanie says.
Heartbreaking for the people who couldn’t get married or the charities that couldn’t raise funds.
And for Stephanie: “The voice I sing with is like my rocket fuel,” she explains. “I literally felt like my voice was cut off.”
But then someone invited Stephanie to sing a song on their front lawn as part of their seven o’clock cheer for frontline workers.
“I thought, 'I don’t know if people would like that,'” she says.
Not only did they like it, but Stephanie was invited to perform on another person’s street, followed by nine more through word of mouth.
Stephanie usually performs a 30-minute set of songs ranging from ABBA to Leonard Cohen, which culminates with a 7 p.m. show of appreciation for frontline workers.
Sometimes, she posts upcoming lawn concerts — or 'lawncerts' — on her Stephanie Greaves Facebook page.
“And it felt like the rocket fuel!” Stephanie smiles.
It seems she’s fuelled, not by ego, but through service. Stephanie says she’s received 89 requests for lawncerts across the capital region, which she’s planning to fulfill for free.
“The compelling requests I’ve gotten have been really emotional ones,” she says.
The requests have ranged from 'Good Mother' to be sung for a nurse working away from her children — to 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' for someone with a terminal illness who can’t receive visits from their friends.
“All of us have something we are really great at,” Stephanie says, explaining her motivation. “Maybe it’s reading bedtime stories, maybe its baking.”
Maybe its staging surprise concerts on a nearby street.
“We all have something we can do to make the world a better place,” Stephanie smiles.