Hand's VIBE Choir Sings For Long-Quarantined Senior Citizens

Ellyn Santiago

MADISON, CT —Although most of their audience was watching from their COVID-quarantined rooms at The Hearth, 14 members of Daniel Hand High School’s national championship show choir, VIBE, sang their hearts out Friday to an audience starved for a connection to the outside world.

“We know this has been a difficult time for you” said VIBE lead singer Marco Natarelli, looking up all three stories of windows inched open to hear them sing. “But we know you are in there, and we have not forgotten you.”

The nursing home has been on a state-mandated COVID-19 lockdown since late March. But on Friday, about a dozen Hearth residents were escorted by staff out into the sunny courtyard; some for the first time in months.

The teen vocalists surrounded the courtyard standing 6-feet apart, face masks on. But on cue, face masks came down to their chins as they sang out three songs from this year’s VIBE theme, "Noah’s Ark.”

VIBE won the national competition in New York a year ago. They were hoping to win again this year when the competition moved to Disney World, but the trip was canceled due to the coronavirus.

They had not performed in months, but when professional sound engineer and DJ Joe Bunovsky showed up an hour early to hand a mic to each singer, it was clear the group had lost nothing.

“My son Kyle (Junell) is in VIBE. He told me they were doing this acoustically. But I knew -- 14 kids and social distancing — they’d need microphones to make an impact," said Bunovksy.

Knowing it was the last time they would ever sing together as a group, the group ended with an uptempo version of Amazing Grace.

“We left them — and ourselves — on a hopeful note," senior Chloe Manion said.

“It wasn't Disney World,” VIBE member Jamie Watkins said. “But I think we made some magic. We waved to residents we could barely see in the windows. But we felt their presence and I’m pretty sure they felt ours.”

Video by Jeff Hansen

This article originally appeared on the Madison Patch