Many Darling Divas have graced Second Life® stages.This article recognizes the talent and dedication of Jewels Osterham, Dilah Halostar, and Elvera Lerner. I was honored to meet them individually on their home turfs, knowing how busy their schedules are.
A stage light casts a shimmering glow upon an elegantly dressed singer as she stands in front of a vintage microphone. Her hair is arranged in a cascading wave. Her jewelry further enhances her style and grace. Her personality and her natural ability to entertain draw us closer.
Dilah and I sit at a mosaic table on a quiet dock on Darksong Island, about an hour before her regular set in a popular Blue’s venue. Conscious of time, we begin the interview immediately. She wears a sleek beige Mona Lisa gown with a brown bodice, ready for her scheduled performance. Her partner, Amadeus Freund, bids her goodbye allowing us to speak privately. Puffs of smoke from his cigar rise as sunset begins to cloak the sim around us.
“Music is such a life-long journey for me,” Dilah confesses, “I’m from west Texas. I think I was twelve when I realized it was a full time thing for me. Back then, I was more of a pianist. I was just starting to write melodies and sing songs, write poetry and put them together. They were really awful, but it’s always been there.”
Dilah began taking piano lessons when she six years old, but quit because she was not interested in practicing. Her mother enrolled her in ballet, instead, because she thought she wanted to be a prima ballerina. After one term of ballet, her teacher told her mother to find her different performing outlets. Her passion wasn’t in ballet, but music itself. She began to realize this when her brother took piano lessons, and she was sneaking in the room to play and write songs. She loved it and didn’t want to stop practicing. They’d come in the room and close the piano to try to get her to stop. The discipline of practice took a while to grow accustomed to.
“I’d get my lesson out of the way and then I’d just play,” she recalled. “I’d play anything in any book I had or I’d sit and just improvise and play for hours. It’s always been a passion. The singing, I guess, was something I started to do when writing my own songs. I was probably more like 11 or 12.”
Dilah’s passion for music put her on her own path, for her family had settled into academic careers. Though, she did have an uncle with a wonderful singing voice. She grew up in an extremely conservative family, more classical, until her mother developed a crush on Glen Campbell. By the time she was a teenager, and rebellion stepped in, she was listening to Mac Davis and the Osmonds. For three years, she was in her church’s state-wide talent show. She placed fifth, third, and second place during the three years she participated, and she was in all the bands in high school. She also performed in various song writing contests. When Dilah attended college, she began playing in the school’s band. After earning her Associate’s degree, she played on the road, on and off, for 15 years. She continues to play piano professionally for church in real life, and is a piano teacher.
Dilah feels her tastes have evolved. She’s knows that she needs to play more on her strong points, which are jazz and blues. That’s not to say she doesn’t like a lot of other genres.
Television was Dilah’s passport into Second Life. When she first rezzed in-world, she became friends with a fantasy role-player. His character portrayed an Arch-Mage, and Dilah was a Mage of the fantasy sim.
“It was such an adventure, so totally foreign to anything I’d been around,” she confessed. “I made some wonderful friends that I’m still friends with today. But I don’t have time to do that anymore.”
Dilah began performing in Second Life with the help of informative friends. Her first set was in the role-playing sim Chicago, at the Fiume Club. One of her close friends, Fayandria Foley, had facilitated her performances there. Dilah adored the opportunity, but found it stressful. Up until two days before, she had been working on home recording, writing songs, and recording tracks, her first thought was to make everything more difficult. It was vintage, so she transitioned into a vintage-style act.
“My first inclination was to make everything 4,052 times harder. Basically what it boiled down to was, ‘Hey, Dee, take this and plug it into the mic,’ and what do you know, it works,” she joked, adding that she loves performing now. “I sing a lot of different things. I love Jazz and Blues, some old Rock ‘n Roll, Pop, some Country when I was on the road a lot.”
Thunderfoot Lorefield and Dilah are working on songs together. He was one of the people responsible for helping her get started as a performer. In the beginning, she had sets at the Azure Club and Gallery. It closed down a while ago, and now she has Graine’s café. She performs there once a month.
“I play at least one show every day in SL. I work over at the Phantom Rose once a month,” she told me. “I love that there’s such a wide diversity of people here. I love to be able to sing the requests that they ask. I love the fact that I can do music that I truly love. There are so many people that I’ve met and have built relationships with. I wouldn’t have, hadn’t I met them here.”
What do her fans demand to hear?
“One of my most requested songs is Katie Melua’s ‘Nine Million Bicycles.’ Rosie, my helper, always asks me for jazz or blues. Timer is always throwing me songs. I’m glad to be able to do some of my original stuff. I’m collaborating with Thunderfoot. He has a couple of my original tunes, for which he’s put down drum and guitars. He’s an amazing drummer.”
Dilah hopes to create a CD of all her original songs. She’s working on getting some of her main ones down. They’ve worked very hard on one. Dilah has sent him back some keyboard tracks and she’ll do the vocals. He has another one that is a really special song to her that he’s working on. This is all internet collaboration.
Last Halloween, she also worked with Spirited Emor in “Phantom of the Opera.”
“That was fun and amazing and an adventure and a lot of work. A bit overwhelming at times,” she confesses.
Elvera Lerner is known as the English Rose. Her beautiful costumes and dramatic musicals have earned her respect over the years. She is graceful in appearance, and always provides a charming greeting. Her goal is to be known as the most theatrical avatar in Second Life®.
It’s a Saturday afternoon, and we sit back on the ebony couches in my chat studio. My show is over and a few members of the audience remain to hear the interview.
Captivated, I listen as Elvera weaves the tale of her real life.
She resides in South East England, which is in the middle of the Green belt, a building exclusion zone around London. She still lives in the small town where she was born, near Gatwick Airport.
“True story coming up,” she tells me. “Before I was out of my pram, I started to sing. I couldn’t even talk yet. I don’t recall a time when I didn’t sing. My first public solo was when I was three. Then I started singing around the house and in Sunday School. My parents also gave me a child’s record player, and I would sing along to that all the time. It was my favorite toy.”
The “singing gene” apparently came from her grandfather as her parents were both scientists. Elvera was in school choirs, often selected to do solos. Years later, she joined the local amateur operatic society and began performing operetta when she was 17.
“It was the voice. It was ‘right’ for opera/operetta. At that age, I had a really pretty, extremely high and flexible soprano. They called my type of voice then, a coloratura,” she explained. “At the age of 18, I decided to get proper training so that I could compete for roles. I had private singing lessons, as I had already, at that age, missed the boat to go to university.” She added that she did go to school in her 30’s. Her degree is in film direction. She’s a director in real life.
Until her thirties, she sang operetta, mostly charity fundraisers for people who are visually challenged. She earns her living directing and singing in local theaters, and performs solo concerts for seniors.
Asked how she learned about Second Life, she explains that her fiancé is an author. He announced that he was writing a book. One of his readers suggested that she hop on Second Life while he was writing during the night, to have something fun for her to do.“I had no idea what SL was,” she said. “I loved it instantly. I loved meeting people, so I began going to all the newbie and freebie places. I eventually figured out how to search and typed in ‘singing’. There I found the O Karaoke Lounge, the one that Canipanic and I now own. I watched people for a few weeks, gaining courage. I also searched for ‘theater’ and found a number of those.” Currently, she performs three to four times a week, and sings in real life, too.
“I do two types of shows. I do a gig like all the other singers in SL, though I do make it theatrical by changing costumes, and I also do shows like ‘Phantom’ and the ‘Julie Andrews Experience.’ My showcases are variety shows. You can find them on Youtube,” she said. “Phantom took three to four months to prepare.”
Elvera explains that Phantom has been running for a year on SL, and it will keep running as long as theyare booked. Then there’s her company, The English Rose Theatre.
For real life performances, she’s currently doing three shows: “A Christmas Carol,” “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” and an original two-person show that blends Shakespeare, a 1960 science fiction drama, and 1950’s rock in roll. And, she’s directing the show!
The first time I met Jewels Osterham was on Babien Serrati’s gorgeous Rainforest sim. She was dressed in an elegant gown, and everyone loved her musical selections. That night, I asked her to be a guest on my chat, and was thrilled that she agreed. Here I am interviewing her, but this time without an audience.
She tells me that for as long as she can remember, music has been a part of her life. Her parents played Boston Pops albums for the kids. During Christmas, either records played holiday songs, or tunes were heard on their radio. It was no surprise when her brother began playing the drums, her sister pounded skillfully on the keyboard, and Jewels began to sing. For a little while, Jewels took lessons as a teen.
“My instructor was a lovely older woman who encouraged me to sing musical hits, like ‘The Sound of Music,’ or ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’” Jewels confessed. “I, however, thought I should be able to sing like Pat Benatar! Needless to say, she was not going to have me performing ‘Shadows of the Night.’ I took lessons for a few months, but never went further with it.”
Jewels confesses to being a natural in the classroom and on stage with a group during high school, but on her own, she was nervous. She recalled her first solo.
“I worked for that, I wanted it so bad and we did the tryouts in the classroom, so I felt I could do it,” she said. “Well, I was selected. I was so excited until performance night arrived. I stood on that stage in front of all those people, my family included, and could hardly breathe. I have no idea what I sounded like or if I was even heard. So it was memorable in that I didn’t pass out,” she joked. “I was quite shy as a teen, although you’d never know that now.”
Growing up, Jewels admits to being a “rocker.” She loved listening to Ted Nugent, Pat Benatar, The Mammas and the Pappas, and Queen. On quiet nights, she had to hear Bread, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Carole King, and the Little River Band. She loved American Bandstand and Wolfman Jack.
When it comes to her style, she feels it’s mellowed with maturity. She finds beauty in the hits from the 30’s and 40’s. But, if she had to pinpoint one artist that she’s styled herself close to, it would be Diana Krall, a Canadian Jazz pianist and singer.
But, what appeals most to her soul is Smooth Jazz. “It’s soothing, romantic, fun, peppy, mellow,” she declared. “It covers so many emotions and I can find what I need in particular songs to convey my feelings I may be having at the moment. Pop is just that. It’s popular and fun, and you can hear plenty of it if you listen to the radio. It, too, can cover a list of emotions.”
What brought her to SL, I asked. That would be Paulete Oldrich. She met her on another musician’s forum, where artists could post recordings. They became friends, and she told Jewels about SL. She gave her the link to download the program, and guided her every step of the way. Not only that, she also introduced her to Babien Serrati, and he booked her for her first gigs in-world. There Jewels participated in an open mic at Babien’s “Drip ‘n Grind” café.
Today, she feels she’s ultra blessed to have a show nearly every night of the week at 7 p.m. SLT. “On the weekends, I do one or two shows on Saturday and Sunday, as well,” she said. “I am very thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given here to share my hobby and love of music.”
To see the full issue as it is originally published with more photographs and graphics, please download Unforgettable #1. For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com