This weekend is the Annual Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival. We got the chance to talk to local singer, Mom of two, and pet lover Elaine Skeffington of IvyLane. She and her musical partner Ivan Lee will be performing this weekend at the festival beer garden. The duo performs around the greater Seattle area and is worth checking out.
DM: When and where did you start studying music?
ES: Growing up outside of Boston, my Mom enrolled me in dance classes at a well-respected area dance school when I was just 3 ½. As much as I loved to dance (I studied ballet for ten years), as I got older, I really fell in love with all of the wonderful music. My formal music education began much later but growing up, my Mom used to play records all the time on our big console stereo – we’d sing along and dance around together in our dining room…she really instilled in me a deep love for lots of different kinds of music.
DM: Do you play any instruments, or are you strictly a singer?
ES: My parents signed me up for piano lessons when I was maybe 7 or 8, but I didn’t stick with it for very long. I no longer play anything *well* (haha), but I studied piano, flute, and piccolo. As a music education major early in college, I was required to learn the basics of multiple instruments (guitar, violin, clarinet, sax). These days you can find me shaking a tambourine or some other hand-held percussion while I sing.
DM: If you play an instrument which one and why did you pick it?
ES: I don’t play anymore but studied flute in elementary school, mainly because one of my older brothers had a girlfriend at the time who played, and I thought she was really nice. She gave me one of her older flutes and taught me a little; then, my parents hired a teacher, and by the time I was in 6th grade, I was the first chair in our school band.
DM: How long have you been performing?
ES: What’s funny to me is that I wasn’t really a singer early on – I was “that kid” who performed in every school play and cried if I didn’t get the lead. I went to performing arts summer camps and took acting classes. But you could always find me singing along to the radio or records, trying to imitate my favorite singers, so it’s really always been a part of me. It wasn’t until Jr. high school that I joined choir…and I never looked back
DM: What is your favorite thing about performing?
ES: Acting or dancing in front of people can be nerve-wracking, albeit fun, but singing has always felt like “home” to me. The connection you make… it’s like having a conversation with the audience. It’s not about ego or applause; it’s about emotion and sharing the experiences we all have in common. Music is the kind of medicine I think we all need, especially during times like these.
DM: How would you describe your musical career in three words?
ES: Unexpected. Magical. Life-changing.
DM: You recently reunited with your Ivan Lee to resurrect IvyLane; how does it feel to be back again?
ES: Amazing! To find a music partner who you connect with so well, both as a musician and a friend, and for so long (13 years on our first “run”) is a rarity; to get the chance for a second go-around is simply a blessing, especially after Covid shut everything down for the better part of 2 years.
DM: Do you still plan on performing solo? Are you also performing with other bands?
ES: I’m available for solo gigs (weddings, etc.) but mostly enjoy performing with other musicians. In addition to singing with my duo IvyLane, I’ve recently re-joined a dance band called The Tropics that I used to sing lead female vocals with for 7+ years – we perform mostly for private events at yacht clubs, country clubs, weddings, and corporate events. It’s also a lot of fun to sit in with friends’ various bands…I have a lot of talented friends!
DM: What are some accomplishments you’ve achieved during your musical career?
ES: Back in high school, I competed each year to perform at the District/Regional/State choir level, and as a Senior was selected to sing with the All-Eastern Honors Choir (four men, four women from each state) at the New England Conservatory of Music.
As an adult (after being “dared” by my then young children), I auditioned and earned a semi-finalist spot on “Seattle Stars” – Seattle’s local version of American Idol – which aired on KIRO 7 to the delight of my kids and their schoolmates.
DM: Is there a specific genre of music you like to perform?
ES: I love belting out rock, and I enjoy Jazz, but my wheelhouse is really Pop and Singer-Songwriter. It’s all about the lyrics and story, and I love finding my own way to interpret songs. That’s what’s so great about music…songs can mean different things to different people, just based on your own life experiences.
DM: What is your favorite type of music to listen to?
ES: Is “yes” an appropriate answer? It all depends on my mood…
What are you currently listening to and why (music, podcasts, etc.)?
ES: Honestly, most of what I listen to these days is whatever my son (20) is discovering and playing loudly at home. He’s got very eclectic taste and appreciates lots of the older stuff I grew up listening to, and he clues me in on some really interesting newer artists.
DM: If you could play music with (or talk to) any musician living or dead, who would it be and why?
ES: I can only narrow it down to 3: Eva Cassidy, one of THE purest voices that ever-graced ears; Sarah McLachlan…to sing those gorgeous harmonies with her would be heaven; and Bonnie Raitt, not just an accomplished musician but a woman who’s stayed true to her own vision in an often commercial and male-driven industry.
DM: What causes are you passionate about?
ES: LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, racial justice, animal welfare, and the environment.
DM: Do you have children? What are their names and ages?
ES: My two favorite people in the world are Allie (22) and Patrick (20)
DM: What kind of pets do you have, if any? What are their names?
ES: I have a beautiful, nearly-blind 10-y/o black cat named Coltrane (we call him “Cole”) after musician John Coltrane and a gorgeous 11-y/o girl named Mya, who we “adopted” a few years ago from my aging parents in FL when they could no longer care for her. We’ve had lots of cats over the years and Allie, who works as a Vet Tech, has quite a few ferrets.
DM: Are there any questions I should have asked but didn’t? What would it be and why?
ES: How about…where can we see/hear you next?
Please visit www.ElaineSkeffingtonVocals.com for my up-to-date schedule!