This was my first bushfire, and my reactions moved from not-understanding, to shock, to fear, to utter disbelief, and until finally relief. People back home in Canada were praying and asking daily after us as the news back home was reporting on the fires here in grave detail.
Through it all, I was amazed at how the community pulled together and was glad to lend my support to FireLight. While we were setting up, a local cat got into the building, and he entertained us throughout the night, weaving his way under the chairs and occasionally joining the performers on stage.
Local talent came out along with Jack Pledge and Peter Scully, the original judges of the event. Prizes originally organized for the talent winners were auctioned off along with donations of art. I was amazed by four extraordinary young women (pictured together below) who held their own amongst the seasoned performers.
Bridget Cama was the first of singer-songwriters, straight from the HSC, performing three covers and one song of her own. She titled the song, “Lullaby,” and played it on her ukulele which she admitted to learning recently. “Lullaby” was a sweet love song that could have easily been played on the radio.
Bridget’s second song was a duet with Brenella Rehim. Their two voices blended beautifully and let us know that we were in for a treat listening to these young women.
Annali Bird played three original songs on her keyboard, including a song she wrote as a “shout out to the Firies” which received a huge roar from the volunteers who came out to help with the event. She sang about the hopeful sound of the sirens coming to the aid of those in danger.
She confessed to me afterwards that she’d finished the song just forty-five minutes before and when I asked her the title she dug out the lyrics to quickly pick one. She called the song “Not Today,” which suited it perfectly as an anthem declaring the determination of all those who refused to shrink in the face of a huge disaster.
Courtney Clarke followed her and told the audience she had “goose bumps” after hearing Annali perform. She played two originals and one Taylor Swift dedicated to her dad song on her guitar. Like Bridget and Annali, Courtney was also debuting a new song, one she’d written just the week before at her sister’s request. “Hey Courtney, write me a song for my birthday,” he sister had asked. “Yeah, it’s that easy, Kelsie,” Courtney sarcastically replied, but she made it look easy.
“Kelsie’s Song,” was lovely and personal telling of her sister singing in her room “when it’s getting late at night” and her green eyes which are like “no one’s in the world.”
Courtney’s last song had the audience clapping and her fellow performers, Bridget and Brenella, singing along.
I suspect everyone who was at the Crystal Theatre Saturday night will be talking about these four young women and I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear much more from them in the future.