Musicians return for annual concert supporting Grandmothers

Matt Gardner
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An annual concert to raise funds for local grandmothers in their efforts to help African orphans returns to Prince Albert this month.

Arioso and the Jazz Guise will perform at the St. Mary High School auditorium on Sunday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in support of the group Grandmothers for Grandmothers (G4G).

All proceeds from the concert will go towards helping the grandmothers assist their African counterparts as they care for grandchildren orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“Those grandmothers who have raised their own family and should be of the age where they can rest and do fun things are becoming parents again, and they are dealing with their own grief for the loss of their children through HIV and AIDS,” G4G representative Bea Fisher said.

“Some of these grandmothers are HIV-positive themselves and they are also dealing with the grief of the grandchildren who have lost their parents to HIV and AIDS … They struggle on many different levels in Africa.”

She noted that many such African grandmothers struggle to find enough money to buy food for the children.

In their efforts to help grandmothers overseas, the local G4G contingent donates money through the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which helps distribute the funds through community groups on the ground.

“It’s a very good relationship, even though we don’t get to know who those grandmothers are,” Fisher said.

“Apparently, we have found out through the Stephen Lewis Foundation that when the money gets to that community group and the grandmothers actually are receiving the benefits from it, they’re actually very surprised that the money is coming from grandmothers like themselves in Canada, which is really rather interesting, I think.

“They think it’s coming from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, but … the field workers tell them, ‘No, no, this is money that’s coming … from a group of grandmothers in Canada who believe that you are doing something worthwhile.’”

Fisher described the G4G fundraising concert, now in its seventh year, as “hugely important” in terms of the group’s annual fundraising.

“It’s one of the few ways that we can attract a large number of people who believe that this is an entertaining evening and that the money is going to a worthwhile venture,” she said.

Since its inception, the popular Prince Albert concert has regularly sold out.

When the money gets to that community group and the grandmothers actually are receiving the benefits from it, they’re actually very surprised that the money is coming from grandmothers like themselves in Canada. Bea Fisher

While The Jazz Guise provide musical accompaniment to vocal trio Arioso -- comprised of singers Linda Jensen, Eunice Mooney and Ruth McIvor -- the band also has opportunities to demonstrate their unaccompanied instrumental chops for the audience.

“They do two sets on their own that allow us to change our costumes as well, which is also fun,” Jensen said.

“The audience absolutely loves them because they’re amazing musicians and (they) just really make it a well-rounded show.”

Jensen promised an “eclectic evening” for audiences, with a recognizable and accessible setlist spanning the decades from older classics to more contemporary material.

“This year we have a catchy number from Irving Berlin … and it goes right through to Mariah Carey,” she said.

“We usually have something that’s going to take people by surprise,” she added. “If people leave the concert with a smile on their face and maybe a couple songs in their head, that’s sort of what we’re trying to do.”

While the concert may attract the lion’s share of attention, it is by no means the only point of interest at St. Mary that Sunday.

Visitors on their way in will see both an educational display and a table staffed by G4G members selling cookies to raise additional funds.

Fisher estimated that local G4G members sold 12,000 cookies last year, ranging from chocolate chip to oatmeal raisin to ginger snaps.

Cookies and concerts, she suggested, have proved a winning combination for the group over the years.

“There are lots of familiar faces and really, people do enjoy the format,” Fisher said. “They love to come and buy the cookies.

“The amount of money that’s raised from that is amazing when you’re thinking of cookies, for heaven’s sakes,” she added. “It’s a big attraction.”

Tickets for Arioso and The Jazz Guise cost $15 and are available at Beth’s Yarn and Needle Craft Boutique on Central Avenue.

Cookies are available at the show and cost $3.50 per dozen.

Organizations: Stephen Lewis Foundation, Mary High School, Grandmothers for Grandmothers Prince Albert Needle Craft Boutique

Geographic location: Canada, Africa, Central Avenue

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