Voice Instructor/Soprano Voice Solo (1973-1983)
Violanda Skafish, (maiden name Casalvieri) started singing around the age of 11, studying with various school voice instructors. At age 15, her beautiful soprano was heard by 21 year-old Peter Skafish, saxophonist for the popular Chicago area big band the Johnny Kaye Orchestra. Shortly afterwards, Johnny Kaye himself heard the young girl sing, and offered her the position of being the vocalist for his big band.
Over the next two years, Peter Skafish and Violanda became friends, and by the time she was 17 the two started dating. The two were married about a year later and over the next 3 years, the young couple continued performing with the Johnny Kaye Orchestra while Violanda continued studying voice with various teachers.
At age 21, when Violanda decided to start a family, she made the decision to stop singing professionally. Her first born was a daughter named Mary Lou, and a few years later she gave birth again, this time to a son named Peter.
When she was approximately 27 and with her 2 children a bit older, she resumed singing professionally and began voice study with classical vocal master Lola Fletcher in Chicago. Over the next 10 years, Fletcher developed Violanda’s voice into a premier instrument.
Throughout Chicago, she performed the Lola Fletcher creation “Remembering Fritzi Scheff,” an operatic performance in tribute to the great prima donna singer of the past. In addition, Violanda sang for various classical concerts and in church, and even won the Chicago Tribune’s voice contest as coloratura soprano. Having a desire to instruct others, Violanda earned a voice teaching degree from Roosevelt University while under the tutelage of Fletcher.
At the age of 33, Violanda was expecting her third child. Instead of putting her musical talents on hold, she continued singing throughout the pregnancy. Giving birth on August 29th, James Gerard Skafish, her third and last child, was born.
Starting her third born in serious musical studies at age 6, Violanda soon had the young Skafish accompanying her voice students for their lessons. Singing for political events, in church, and for various local performances over the next several years, her son was her accompanist. Violanda herself introduced Skafish to classical voice technique, teaching him how to use his voice “correctly” and free of strain.
A few years after Skafish formed his band, his mother guest appeared at his 22nd birthday performance and brought down the house when she sang “Ave Maria.” Then in 1983, almost 11 years after the death of her husband Peter, Skafish invited his mother to sing a soprano solo on his 2nd LP that he wrote for her.
A few months later, Violanda re-married, and over the next 5 years she sometimes sang with Skafish when he performed regularly in churches from 1983-1988. Since then, Violanda Skafish occasionally sings for various church services and at family functions.