WBUR | Swiss Jazz Yodeler Started 'Dinner With My Neighbor' To Stay Connected During COVID-19

After her “Homage to Grämlis” tour was cancelled due to COVID-19, Gabriela Martina ’21 MM created the Dinner With My Neighbor series to stay connected and “just be there for somebody.”

Gabriela Martina smiles and holds a wine glass while sitting down to dinner in her home. On screen is a fellow musician with whom she is virtually sharing the meal.

WBUR's Andrea Shea spoke with jazz vocalist Gabriela Martina ’21 MM about her album release tour and her quarantine creation, Dinner With My Neighbor:

Gabriela Martina twirls in a black dress, smiling in front of a farm house, blue sky, and green fields.

Back in early March Gabriela Martina received boxes filled with freshly pressed CDs and vinyl of her new album “Homage to Grämlis.” It took more than two years to produce and it's a tribute to her childhood home in the Swiss Alps — a farm in the town of Horw near Luzern where her parents raised cows and grew organic vegetables for 45 years.


Martina was looking forward to sharing her new songs on a nine-concert European tour slated to start March 10. But the day before she and her bandmates were set to fly out of Boston the trip was cancelled because of COVID-19. Martina was devastated.

“I kind of lost all my money for the tour – which is over $30,000,” Martina explained. She also predicted that over the next few months she wouldn't have any work. Then the artist picked herself up and asked the question, “What can I do to keep myself busy and sane and healthy?”

The solution came naturally to the 35-year-old New England Conservatory masters student. Martina calls her new project – and mission – “Dinner with my Neighbor.

“So it's very simple,” she explained, “I cook and I invite somebody who would like to eat with me. Then they come and pick it up and as soon as they're home they'll text me and then we Zoom or we FaceTime with each other and enjoy the dinner.”


Martina has been concocting meals for friends, students and colleagues every day since lockdown. So far she's tried more than 70 different recipes – everything from traditional Swiss dishes to pasta with fresh pesto to sushi. She compares improvising with ingredients to what she does in her “real life” as a Jazz musician.

Martina also videos herself in action as she demonstrates what she's making. Then she posts them online.


The musician has shared meals with more than 100 guests from 23 different countries including Mozambique, Spain, South Korea, Dominican Republic and her homeland Switzerland. She hopes more people will be inspired to do something similar with their own friends and neighbors.


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