mercredi 2 décembre 2015

Montclair's seventh annual Concert for Haiti scheduled for Jan. 30

Americans tend to have short attention spans. Every time a new disaster or story of suffering hits the news, we tend to forget the last one. However, the nation of Haiti is still reeling from a series of devastating earthquakes in 2008 and 2010. And that's why Cindy Stagoff is letting the Montclair community know that the Seventh Annual Concert for Haiti is fast approaching, and its cause is as urgent as ever.
The concert is once again being held on January 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 67 Church St, and will raise funds for WhyHunger, Haitian Education Leadership Program, Edeyo Foundation and Lamp for Haiti. And if the past is any indication, tickets and sponsorships will once again go quickly. Those interested in sponsorships can contact Cindy Stagoff at cstagoff@comcast.net. Tickets can be purchased at Watchung Booksellers, 54 Fairfield St., or online at Ticketleap: http://outpost.ticketleap.com/haiti-2015.
Talent from near and far
Once again, the concert shines the spotlight on local and international Haitian artists and performers. "The concert is a vehicle for raising funds and bringing people together," Stagoff added, "and part of bringing people together is finding a writer or an artist. And every year it's something different. This year it's Francks Deceus."
Stagoff learned about Deceus from Deb and Jason DeSalvo, who own several of the artist's works. "We went to a Caribbean-African art fair in the Puck Building a bazillion years ago," said Deb DeSalvo. "He has a very distinctive style and voice, and it definitely has to do with coming to this country with the American dream, with family, and with the image of the black man."
"We're trying to bring a multimedia perspective to the concert," added Stagoff. "I've had artists before, but this artist takes my breath away."
The concert itself will feature a combination of local and nationally-known artists including Paul Beaubrun with Zing Experience, Richard "Earthman" Laurent and Soleil Laurent, Big Mamou, Passing Notes and the Temple Ner Tamid group, including Cantor Meredith Greenberg, Leora Perlman, Bob Mellman and Peri Smilow with Tom Parente and Melissa Schaffer.
In addition, iconic folk duo Aztec Two-Step will give a rare local show, and jazz giant Melissa Walker will sing accompanied by the Jazz House Kids.
Full Circle
One more performer will be on hand who has special meaning to Stagoff: Harry Chapin's daughter Jen Chapin. "This year we're also working with WhyHunger, [which was] started when I was in high school by Harry Chapin, his colleague Bill Ayres when it was the Food and Hunger Hotline. Unfortunately Harry died in 1981 in a car crash, but his family and friends have continued this foundation ever since.
"I became a lawyer to focus on poverty issues and women's rights. So for me, my meeting with Harry Chapin was one of my first meetings with someone interested in social justice and poverty issues.
"I met Jen at the WhyHunger annual event. We chatted briefly, and I told her about my historic connection to her father, and the organization in New York City. So it just feels like it's coming full circle with Jen performing."
Between now and the concert, Stagoff is busy signing up sponsors and alerting the town that tickets are already on sale - and that they go fast.
"Every year it's harder and harder to organize this event," said Stagoff, "because people are focused on other things.
"This is not just a concert that we're organizing. We're also trying to raise money, and you don't raise much money for the four nonprofits that we're supporting through ticket sales. So I have to work really hard to get sponsors."
Despite the many concerns in organizing the concert, the cause itself is always on Stagoff's mind. "There are so many people in need and so many issues and disasters occurring that it's harder every year to get people to refocus on what's going on, and what still needs to be done.
"But Montclair rises to the occasion every year," she added. "Montclair is a beautiful community filled with kindhearted, empathetic, activist-oriented people. That's why we live here."

Email: cannon@northjersey.com

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