INDIANAPOLIS — "Singing is who I am. Before I was a digital media major manager, before I was a wife, before I was a daughter or sister, I was a singer and that's what God made me."
Singing and putting a smile on the face of her audience is what Valerie Phelps lives for and it's the very thing the coronavirus pandemic has kept her from doing for the past year.
"There were no jobs. There was no place to work. Because all of the businesses and all the restaurants and all the entertainment venues, everything closed down," said Phelps.
The pandemic not only took away what Phelps loves to do, but it also took away her income.
Music is not just a gig, it's an industry she and her husband have worked in for 20 years. That's why Phelps couldn't be happier to be among more than 80 live performers getting paid for "Swish Live," a music and performance series you'll see on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail while March Madness takes over the Circle City.
"Oh my gosh! I mean, I am so excited. Yes, we do have to survive, and we do need money, but just the opportunity to just express myself as an artist, that's who I am. That's who we are," said Phelps.
Phelps will be among a long list of Indy's best vocalists, bands and DJ's playing Thursday through Sunday at multiple places throughout downtown for the rest of the month. Phelps spent part of last weekend performing along Georgia Street. She says it's the first time in a long time that she's seen smiles and an audience.
"We would do different shoutouts to them, Chicago, and this and you know — The atmosphere was just so nice, and Indianapolis really, really did it up for all the guests and I'm just excited and proud to be a part of that," said Phelps.
The Arts Council of Indianapolis put out a public call for artists to participate in "Swish" back in February, and received more than 560 submissions.