Former Miss Palisades Returns for Homecoming Tour

By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter

Former Miss Palisades Elena Loper will always be connected to her roots in Pacific Palisades.

The singer-songwriter returned this July for an impromptu homecoming tour, with her performing partner Cooper Stouli, at The Draycott in Palisades Village and at Pali Wine Co.’s Downtown Tasting Room.

Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

“The Draycott was packed, standing room only, on a Sunday night,” local resident Kimberly Bloom said. “It was so nice to see our community come out to honor and support, but that’s what makes the Palisades, the Palisades.”

Loper grew up in Pacific Palisades since she was 2, attending St. Matthew’s Parish and Palisades Charter High schools. Her hometown crowd did not disappoint.

In the audience was her preschool teacher, Rosie Strickland.

”I remember Elena playing happily in the schoolyard,” Strickland shared. “To see her now, having blossomed into such an accomplished performer, was remarkable and so heartwarming.”

Strickland added that she was impressed with the songs that Loper writes and her “incredibly gorgeous” voice.”

As a freshman at Pali High, Loper won the Pali Idol singing competition. She was also selected as Miss Palisades during her high school years—a Palisades tradition started in 1959 to represent teens in the local community.

Loper had not performed in the LA area since moving to Seattle. The owners of The Draycott express their love for opportunities like this.

“When Matt and I dreamt up The Draycott, we hoped it would be a place where friends and family would gather for drinks with friends, celebrations with family, and making of memories,” co-owner Marissa Hermer said.

When they heard that Loper was going to be returning to Los Angeles, “We were honored to welcome her friends and family into The Draycott so we could share the special evening together.”

Loper also performed at Pali Wine Co.’s Tasting Room downtown. Bloom who attended both shows and bought her CD said, “I’ve known her since she was a young girl, she continues to grow and evolve.”

Cooper and Elena take the stage at The Draycott.

She said she loves her voice and calls it, “beautiful, melodic, soothing and almost haunting in nature. The fact she writes all her own music and lyrics too, is so impressive.”

After high school, Loper attended UCLA where she and her bandmates at the time won first place at the long-held tradition of the “Spring Sing” competition in Pauley Pavilion, with thousands of people attending and voting.

She graduated from UCLA in 2016, summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in ethnomusicology.

After graduating, Loper has been living in Seattle for three years and performing throughout Washington and Oregon with her bandmate, Stouli.

Their recent release is a debut album entitled “Dravus House” and the music is “alt-folk” or “progressive folk” style. Loper wrote the music and lyrics to seven out of the eight songs. She is also a teacher and works full time at the Bush School, in addition to being a singer-songwriter-performer.

Loper talked with the Palisadian-Post about her Palisades upbringing, her role as a singer-songwriter and what’s next on her list.

Her parents, Mary Lou and Bill Loper, moved to the Palisades with Loper, an only child, seeking to be closer to views of the water compared to their previous home in the Valley. Mary Lou originally came from upstate New York while her father Bill grew up in Palo Alto and Seattle.

Loper said that growing up in the Palisades, everyone was really supportive, including her teachers and great friends.

Loper’s interest in music came at a young age. She said her musical influences are Joni Mitchell, Laura Viers and Adrienne Lenker.

Loper writes about Carrie Fisher in her song “Bang.” She wrote the song after Fisher passed away. Loper described it a song about being with yourself during difficult times.

“I looked up to her growing up,” Loper shared. “She had her own life and struggles. Just figuring out in my life and other people’s, how to integrate your outer self to your inner self.”

Loper had five performances during her time in Los Angeles and up the coast, with engagements at The Other Room (North Hollywood), Bliss Cafe (San Luis Obispo) and El Cid (Silverlake). Loper plans to continue touring in the Pacific Northwest where she lives, and one day bring her music into the realm of film and television.