- On January 12 the world watched in horror the first images of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that shattered the lives of millions of inhabitants on Haiti, one of the Caribbean's most impoverished islands. As is the altruistic nature of our community, the Hamptons generously responded and as is often the case the response was led by the artists among us.
"Hamptons for Haiti" founder Dan Bailey.
On Saturday, January 30 Bay Street Theatre
hosted the "Hamptons for Haiti" fundraiser as the community gathered to sing, dance and more importantly give in support of the Haitian relief efforts of UNICEF
and Yele Haiti, the charitable organization founded by Haitian musician, producer and Hamptons regular Wyclef Jean
. Over $10,000 was raised at the standing room only event with many attendees giving more than the suggested $25 donation.
A musician himself, the evening was organized by County Legislator Jay Schneiderman
along with the help of Dan Bailey
, leader of the Living Rhythm
band, who had already performed at several fundraisers for Haiti. Prior to the start of the event Schneiderman told Hamptons.com, "Everyone out here was trying to do something in response to the tragedy such as many of our local doctors going to Haiti for medical support. The main request coming out of Haiti was for money to support the relief organizations, so gathering together these talented people for a fund raising event seem like the best thing to do, as quickly as we could do it. I went to Tracy Mitchell
who is the executive director of Bay Street and she said, 'Let's do it!' It was Dan Bailey, who I perform with, who first came to me after he had done a fund raiser in Brooklyn and suggested we do something in the Hamptons."
After comments to the audience and acknowledgement of supports and volunteers by Schneiderman, Bailey opened the fundraiser fronting the incredible Djambeli Drum & Dance
featuring African drumming, singing and dance. The extraordinary, simply electric performance had audience members screaming, clapping and stamping their feet in cadence with the intense, melodic rhythms of the almost two dozen musicians. Bailey evoked chants of goodwill and love toward the Haitian people and was joined by the almost 300 members of the audience in unison.
Haiti born Obed Jean Louis of Living Rhythm.
Speaking with Bailey backstage after his performance he told me, "I have some close friends and musicians that I work with who are from Haiti, I immediately wanted to do something to be helpful. I thought the best thing we could do as musicians would be to use our talents to help, so I started this organization "Hamptons for Haiti" and Jay helped me with the launching of that and this event. Actually Wyclef Jean, whose organization we are supporting tonight, could not be here, but he sent his love and blessings and thanks for all we are doing." Jean was one of the hosts of last week's international telethon "Hope for Haiti" that was organizer by actor George Clooney
. Jean has been on the ground in his homeland
of Haiti almost since day one of the disaster.
Haiti born Obed Jean Louis
of Living Rhythm was up next and was grateful to inform the packed house that his family members in Haiti were all safe and thanked everyone for their outpouring of love and support. The familiar and popular blues of Sag Harbor's own Jim Turner
followed in the line-up of local talent. Turner put the disaster into cogent perspective, "This is a country that has immense poverty, founded by the grandchildren of slaves. Now they are being put in a system, I am not that political, but this could end up being anarchy and tragedy of even a worst kind without our [America's] help." Turner went on to express the pride he felt for the members of the 82nd Airborne, which was immediately deployed to Haiti after the earthquake.
The band Mr. No Shame ignited the crowd with a Latino/Rock performance that was nothing short of spectacular.
The band Mr. No Shame
, a group of six musicians with various South American origins
, ignited the crowd with a Latino/Rock performance that was nothing short of spectacular. The international flavor of the evening continued with the superb Latin jazz style of another local East End favorite, Alfredo Merat
Bay Street Theatre Art Director Murphy Davis with Executive Director Tracy Mitchell and volunteers announcing raffle winners.
The evening's funny and charming master of ceremonies was Bay Street artistic director Murphy Davis
, who with Mitchell and the rest of the staff of Bay Street provided the location and logistics for this extraordinary evening of community charity. Along with introducing the acts, Davis announced the raffle winners and urged the audience to dig deeper in their pockets in support of Haitian relief, setting the example by digging into his own pockets on occasion. Local businesses and individuals donated raffle and silent auction items to the event including Golden Pear
, Two Trees Stables
, Terra Design Landscape
, Tulla Booth Gallery
, Hampton Jitney
, DGQ Gutter Cleaning
, and many more.
Although Bay Street is one of the stellar performing arts venues during the height of the summer season, it is also a resource throughout the year for locals that live on the East End. As Davis stated, "It is one of the things we can do in our non-summer months. It is very gratifying for us as a theater to give lots of opportunities and a venue for local artists, events and charities out here in the off-season. It is a great gift for us to be able to give the theater over to a cause like this. I mean it; it is a gift for us!"
The evening concluded with an after-party in the theater lobby and the beat continued with the sounds of The Bastards of Boom
. The audience, artists and organizers danced, chatted and planned future events in support of the devastated people of Haiti. The island nation will continue to need help to rebuild for years after the recovery and initial relief efforts have ended. Undoubtedly, when the summer season arrives many upscale, celebrity driven events should and will be organized in support of Haiti, but the work must continue throughout our Hamptons winter. Altruism like the community based charity expressed at the Bay Street "Hamptons for Haiti" fundraiser, driven by local support for local artists in one of our local theaters.
Jay Schneiderman and Tracy Mitchell acknowledging supporters and volunteers.
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com