The magnitude of the suffering in Haiti is almost incomprehensible. It’s enough to make the average American take quite a bit of notice — by Jan. 20, more than $21 million had been donated to the cause, with more money coming in hourly.
Additional help for the island nation will come from several events this weekend. On Friday, baritone vocalist Philip Mentor will perform at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, along with Grammy Award-winning pianist and Maine resident Paul Sullivan. Admission is $10.
Mentor was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and combines his opera training with a background in gospel music. He has performed throughout most of the United States and Caribbean, including with the New Philharmonic of New Jersey, Montclair Chamber Orchestra and the Morristown Chamber Players, and has studied with the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Opera and the American Symphony.
Grammy Award winner Sullivan, a longtime Maine resident, will perform with Mentor in a concert showcasing the rich musical traditions of Haiti, Louisiana and the French African experience in the Caribbean. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit relief efforts in Haiti through the American Red Cross and Water Projects International.
Also this weekend is a performance by Velma, which will play at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, at Verve on the corner of Main and Mill streets in Orono. Abe and Heather Furth, owners of Verve, will contribute audience donations and a portion of the evening’s food and drink sales to a well-known agency to help support relief efforts. Velma comprises Margo Lukens on rhythm guitar and mandolin, Steve McKay on lead guitar and accordion, Sue Hamlett on percussion, Harvey Kail on harmonica and Paul Riechmann on upright bass. They play a mix of jazz, blues, pop, country and more.
Finally, steel drum band Steelin’ Thunder will give back to its Caribbean roots as the members of the midcoast Maine group hold a concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, in the sanctuary of Rockland Congregational Church on Limerock Street. The event will support a medical relief mission. Dr. Kevin Olehnik of Penobscot Bay Orthopaedic Medicine Associates will lead a team of local physicians, who will travel to Haiti as soon as possible to help provide medical assistance. Admission is by donation.
If you are unable to make any of these concerts, you can always make a donation by going to www.redcross.org.