‘I Will Survive’: This REALTOR® Is Getting the World Singing

March 24, 2020

Ilana Minkoff, a real estate professional with Vanguard Properties, was looking for a little bright spot in what had become lonely evening walks with her dog in her San Francisco neighborhood amid the COVID-19 sheltering-in-place restrictions. So one evening she invited others in a neighborhood Facebook group to step outside their doors or open their windows, and sing together in unison. Five families and herself sang “All You Need Is Love,” sending music echoing down the otherwise empty street.

Since then, their music has spread across cities, states, and even continents.

Minkoff started a Facebook group for spreading the music, Quarantine Sing-Along, which tens of thousands have joined. Members are submitting Facebook videos of themselves singing the “song of the day” from their homes or streets, similar to those captured by the Italians singing from their windows during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions.

“There’s no reason we can’t be social even though we’re physically distant,” Minkoff says. “The singalong group is case in point.”

Using Music to Connect

Minkoff has always loved music. She has also been missing those daily connections from her real estate business and personal life. “A friend, who also loves music, and I thought it would be fun to gather up some people in our neighborhood and have them all sing together like they do in Italy,” Minkoff says. Soon friends started asking if they could invite others to the singalong, and more people started to join in.

She started her Facebook group on the evening of March 18, and by the morning of March 22, the group had nearly 36,000 members from across the country as well as members from Africa, India, Australia, Finland, Ukraine, Italy, and more. They've come together for singalongs of classics like “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “I Will Survive.”

“Italians are livestreaming in the group singing in Italian for us, and all Italians that have posted to thank us for being there with them,” she says.

‘A Catalyst for a Little Light and Positivity’

The song of the day for the Facebook group is voted on by its members and posted at 3 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The singalong starts each night promptly at 6:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. “We start with a moment of gratitude and a deep breath,” Minkoff says. “Then at 7 p.m. sharp, we have a hearty round of applause for the front line and essential workers who are working tirelessly to keep us safe, fed, and healthy. Then, at 7:01 p.m., we all burst into song.” Afterward, members of the Facebook group share videos of their singalongs from the evening’s selected song.

However, there’s one song Minkoff is holding on to for a very special day: Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “That is the ultimate singalong song and I reserve the sole and single right to make that the song of the day when I feel as a group we are ready,” she says.

As people around the nation search for social connection amid growing restrictions on public interactions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Minkoff hopes the singalongs can offer a beacon of hope and connection, like it has for her.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think this would go beyond my neighborhood, circle of friends, and clients who live in the area that happened to see the post,” Minkoff says. “I think people were desperate for connection and want to feel like we are all in this together. Singing is something we can all do. This is a catalyst for a little light and positivity, and [helping] a whole lot of people feel connected.”