Soul Sista sings praises of the virtual platform
Soul singer Lisa Hunt has had to swap sold-out concerts in Italy and New York for renovating her home in Byron Bay, but the disco diva’s dreams of getting back on stage became a reality when she performed for seniors in her first virtual concert.
The idea came about through Lisa’s connection with 99-year-old Feros Village Byron Bay resident Nina Marzi who, before the pandemic, never missed a show at The Beach Hotel.
Nina and her best friend Feather were regular fixtures on the local music scene but pandemic times meant the duo have had to miss their Friday dancing fix and their monthly stints on stage at Lisa’s concerts…until now.
In September, Nina, Feather and 100 Feros Care clients from around Australia got their dose of disco when Lisa performed a virtual concert that was live-streamed to Feros Care residential villages and the homes of seniors across the country.
As part of Feros Care’s commitment to fight loneliness in Australia through its Be Someone For Someone charity, the care provider used innovative technology, its
state-of-the-art studio and online platform – the Virtual Social Centre (VSC) – to connect Lisa with seniors through song, dance and banter in her Motown Virtual Concert.
“I was inspired by Nina’s recent 99th birthday and I was sad that COVID meant she couldn’t get out and dance with me on stage, so when Feros Care suggested a virtual concert I thought, ‘let’s do this’,” said Lisa.
“Nina and Feather are just divine, as are all our seniors, so I wanted to do something for them.
“I want to sing again and connect with people and was given a chance to do that with a group of precious people who, due to COVID, are mostly confined to their home or aged care village.”
While Lisa has amassed a loyal following of fans of all ages, she had never performed exclusively for seniors, or in a matinee timeslot.
“I was a bit terrified of singing at 10am but I put the disco lights on and boy did we have some fun!” she said.
“Everyone knows what they feel when they hear their favourite song. It’s transforming; it lifts you up; it opens your heart.
“If you have it in your heart to reach out and give someone the love you have, then why on earth wouldn’t you? Connection is transformative and it’s something many of us are really lacking right now.
“When I’m singing, no matter what else is happening in the world, for that hour or however long it is, you’re in a different place. The joy of music gives you a break from everything – a break from thinking about everything else that’s going on in the
world and it’s good. It soothes the soul.”
Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley said her team worked tirelessly to provide residents and clients opportunities to broaden their horizons and connect to the world beyond their home.
“The Virtual Social Centre was created to bring music, art, therapy and workshops
into the homes and lives of those living remotely or with mobility issues, but during COVID-19 it has become a portal to the outside world for those isolating for health reasons or government restrictions,” she said.
“Combating isolation is something close to our hearts, which is why Feros Care launched the Be Someone
For Someone charity in 2019 to tackle the loneliness epidemic in Australia.
“In the current climate, Be Someone For Someone is more relevant than ever and we are working to support the unprecedented number of people feeling alone and vulnerable during this time.
“The VSC has an important role to play in the work we do through Be Someone For Someone, providing a platform for people to meet and connect, despite pandemic restrictions.
“While the VSC provides users with everything from exercise classes and book clubs; to art exhibitions and cooking shows, this was our first live concert and to have a star as big as Lisa Hunt perform was a real honour.
“There was dancing, singing, tears, laughter and smiles, but most of all there was connection – and that’s what life is all about.”
While Feros Care residents and Feros Care clients with eligible programs have access to the Virtual Social Centre, seniors in the community can sign up for a paid subscription or speak with an advisor about available funding options.