Oct. 14, 2005 Three major performing talents one who is homegrown will be on St. Thomas Nov. 5 to highlight the third annual Caribbean Gala for Cure at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Resort.
The event is a premier fundraiser for the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute.
Internationally recognized jazz singer Nancy Wilson is the showcase artist, accompanied by gospel jazz singer Melba Moore and vocalist Jon Lucien from the Virgin Islands.
Emmy and Grammy award winner Wilson, who currently hosts the "Jazz Profiles" program on National Public Radio, has performed with everyone from Billy Ekstine to Ella Fitzgerald in her 50-year career. She is probably best known for her track "Guess Who I Saw Today." She won her Emmy for the NBC variety program, "The Nancy Wilson Show."
Moore entered show business when she replaced Diane Keaton in the original Broadway production of Hair in 1968, the first time an African American took over for a white entertainer on Broadway. By the age of 25 she won a Tony award for her work in the Broadway musical "Purlie."
Jon Lucien needs no introduction to the Virgin Islands. Born on Tortola, the popular artist was raised on St. Thomas. In the 1960s he moved to New York where his career took off.
Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Lucien has played alongside some of the most respected and influential musicians in jazz, including Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. He has created smooth, luminescent music on more than 10 of his own records and CDs over the past quarter century.
In addition to the celebrities, this year's event will feature other invitees who are celebrities in their own right local cancer survivors.
"In the past, we have had complaints that the survivors couldn't afford the $200 tickets," said Lorraine Baa-Elisha, Schneider Regional Medical Center director of development. "This year we are giving away 20 tickets."
To enter, survivors must be registered with the American Cancer Society. There is box in the hospital lobby where entrants may fill out their name, address and phone number, Baa-Elisha said.
"We have reserved two tables;10 seats each," she said.
Kickoff for promoting the event started this week with a $20,000 donation from FirstBank. The bank also gave $20,000 to last year's event, which featured Patti LaBelle and raised more than $ 160,000.
"The support of the private sector is vital in helping build a place where Virgin Islanders can receive cancer treatment right here at home," said Rodney E. Miller, president and chief executive officer of Schneider Regional Medical Center
Cassan Pancham,FirstBank senior vice president, echoed that sentiment.
"By contributing to this project today and into the future, we can be in the forefront of the fight against this dreaded disease," He encouraged other businesses to join the effort.
"Active corporate citizenship in the Virgin Islands community is a fundamental component of FirstBank's operations," Pancham said. Baa-Elisha said the Kimelman Institute has raised more than $2 million in the last three years. The Virgin Islands community has taken the institute into its heart with various fundraising activities, including the popular 24-hour Relay for Life held at the Charlotte Amalie High School track, and the Kimelman annual telethon and gala.
In addition to FirstBank other platinum sponsors ($20,000) include Frenchman's Reef, Roy's Construction and Nick Pourzal. Other sponsors include Aramark, the Stephenson Family Foundation, Hovensa, the West Indian Co. Ltd, Theodore Tunick Insurance, Subway restaurants, MSI Building Supplies, Virgin Islands Council for the Arts, Cartier and Charaf & Co.
Baa-Elisha stressed that other companies and individuals are welcome to help sponsor the 2005 gala. Tickets can be purchased at the Rotary Inner Wheel gift shop in the hospital lobby or through Baa-Elisha at 776-8311, ext. 22281.
The 8 p.m. sit-down dinner will be preceded by a champagne reception at 6:30 p.m., and followed by the performances at 9 p.m. in the hotel grand ballroom.