Katherine Waugh of Easton and Bobby Paltauf of Redding were among the young artists recruited by fellow young artist Niles Luther of Fairfield to perform at a benefit fund-raiser for Newtown at the Fairfield Theatre Co.
It was Niles’ brother, Cameron Luther, an eighth grade student at Fairfield Woods Middle School, who suggested that Niles use his musical talents to help those affected by the school shooting. Niles, 16, a junior at Fairfield Warde High School, agreed, and along with writing an original arrangement for his trio, took on the role of producer.
He recruited Katherine and Bobby, and singer/songwriter Taylor Felt, 11, of Darien was recruited by her her voice teacher, Beverly Lambert.
On Saturday, Jan. 5, they presented two performances of Concert for Newtown to standing-room-only crowds at the Fairfield Theatre Co. Niles said he was left “speechless” by the show’s success.
All proceeds from Concert for Newtown will be donated to the Connecticut PTSA Sandy Hook Fund. Along with ticket sales, Niles hopes to raise $8,000 through GoFundMe.com and concert memorabilia sold online. To generate post-concert donations, he also plans to post video highlights on YouTube.
“I am so happy to help all of the people in the community affected by the tragedy,” said Katherine. “Music brings people together and has a healing power that nothing else has.”
Katherine, 15, is a member of the Fairfield County Children’s Choir. She has performed the national anthem for Bridgeport Bluefish and Sound Tigers games. In 2010, Katherine sang Broadway show tunes onstage at the Norwalk Oyster Festival.
Katherine started singing publicly when she was in first grade and joined the music ministry at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield. This year she was hired to record a demo song for an emerging composer.
“I’ve always loved to sing,” she said.
It was at church that she met Niles.
“I’ve known her all of my life,” Niles said. “All of these people who are in the show I’ve known or heard about but haven’t necessarily performed with. It was exciting to finally be able to work with them onstage.”
When he was contacted by the producers of Concert for Newtown, Bobby was excited about the event. Like Taylor, Niles and Katherine, Bobby has already been performing for several years. The 13-year-old blues guitarist has opened for such legendary musical acts as Buddy Guy, Lucky Peterson and America.
“I wanted to be part of it,” he said.
During the show, Bobby performed Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” Bobby also plans to play in another musical concert to benefit the Newtown community. This performance will take place on Jan. 20 at the Ridgefield Playhouse.
He and his father, Robert, will be traveling to the 29th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., at the end of January.
Robert said Bobby is the youngest person to represent Connecticut at the music festival and competition.
“It’s really a big event,” Robert said.
Bobby credits his father with teaching him to play guitar five and a half years ago.
However, Robert said, “Bobby’s far surpassed me and taken his playing to a new level.”
During the Concert for Newtown, Niles performed an original arrangement called We Found Rock, which is a mash-up of Rockelbel’s Canon (a remix of Pachelbel’s classic Canon in D) and Rihanna’s popular hit song We Found Love. He performed with fellow cellists Fairfield Warde students Jeff Zhang and Sean Larson.
Niles also appeared in the show’s finale, Josh Groban’s inspirational anthem You Raise Me Up. Katherine and a children’s choir composed of students from the Beverly Lambert Studio in Fairfield, were also featured.
Taylor said participating in Concert for Newtown was about making others feel some happiness during a sad time. She is represented by agencies in Los Angeles and New York.
“I like to entertain people,” Taylor said. “When I’m onstage, I like making people happy. This concert was one of the best things I’ve done because we were able to help people and, at the same time, do something we all love.”
Donations may still be made at gofundme.com/concertfornewtown.
Concert for Newtown memorabilia, from which all profit goes to Newtown, may be purchased at cafepress.com/concertfornewtown.