CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Throughout the pandemic, people have started new businesses to try and stay financially afloat. One Queen City opera singer watched her business boom despite COVID-19 constraints.
The arts, entertainment and recreation industries lost the largest percentage of employees with more than 10,000 jobs lost, according to the Labor Department. The department reports just over a 13% decrease in jobs in those industries since the start of the pandemic.
Mahari Freeman, a resident with Opera Carolina, said during the time away from performing, she turned her vocal lesson business into an international venture. Freeman has been teaching vocal and piano lessons for more than a decade, and found her love of performing as a child when she started singing with her church choir.
“I saw the effect that it had on people, and it was one of those things where I immediately knew that that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
Freeman is also a resident with Opera Carolina. Like other artists, she found her performances paused by the pandemic.
“I was in the midst of preparing for about three operas, two locally and one in New York,” said Freeman.
With the extra time off stage, she took her coaching business and turned it into La Voix Academy, a new music school.
“So, I started with about eight students myself. Now, with La Voix Academy, we have 85 enrolled students,” Freeman said. “I really enjoy performing, but I also really enjoy teaching. So it’s very common for you to perform and then to share your experience with your students.”
Freeman said virtual lessons make up half her business, so she’s able to coach hopeful performers as far away as California and Turkey.
“You don’t have to be face to face with anyone. So, it’s really worked during a global pandemic, and I think that our model will just continue to work moving forward,” she said.
Freeman said she is still taking on new students, and she is also preparing for a new opera in Charlotte set to open this fall.