When two parents who are opera singers are quarantined with their three lively children for over three months something musical is bound to happen.
That combination turned into what just might be an internet sensation. They’ve got the moves, parody writing skills and unprecedented family time on their hands.
Tyler and Valerie Nelson live in the Providence area and have three kids; James, 12, Scott, 9 and Katelyn, 6. Both parents are opera singers with their singing gigs shuttered because of the COVID-19 guidelines.
Tyler also is a vocal performance teacher at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. He and Valerie wanted to be productive during these times of togetherness and recently produced about nine YouTube parodies that demonstrated what it’s like to cope, cry, maybe laugh and navigate an unknown future.
“Our original intention was, because we do music in this world, we still want to do music on some level,” said Valerie. “All concerts have been cancelled. Our livelihoods have been decreased. It was always on our bucket list to do funny, little parodies as a family. My husband is a comic in his own right. We love clean and fun comedy. There is not enough of that in our world.”
They pick a place like Charlie Daniels Park, Long Hunter State Park and the local Home Depot as the site for their video. They learn the lyrics, sing and record them as a family, choreograph dancing, shoot hundreds of vignette videos at recognizable places and post on their own YouTube Channel.
“It’s a creative outlet,” Valerie said as she was driving to Long Hunter State Park to shoot the family’s latest parody skit.
Their first video was called “Mom’s Lament,” which is about a mother on lockdown, homeschooling three kids. Their latest parody is called “Don’t Touch Me”, a play on M.C. Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”
“We danced all over Mt. Juliet,” Valerie said. “We know families want to be back in the world, but be careful. We sang lyrics about washing hands, not touching, social distancing. It was hilarious and fun.”
They videotaped in front of the train and skate park at Charlie Daniels Park, at Tri-Star emergency care center and Rutland Elementary School’s playground. For Tyler’s M.C. Hammer parachute pants, they ordered a pattern and the last two yards of gold lame from a fabric store and sewed them up.
“We played our singing in the background, set up a trip-pod and each danced our individual scenes and lip synced,” said Valerie.
The most recent parody was written for a Father’s Day debut, called “I am dad, dad,” out of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” song.
Several neighborhood friends pop up in the videos as well.
“There’s just not enough good, clean stuff out there,” said Valerie. “I guess we are mini-celebs in our neighborhood! Moms tell me it’s so nice to not have to worry about what their kids are watching, when they watch us! Over and over. There’s no bad language or sexual content. It’s just fun skits.”