Passion fuels second annual C2C 'Hope and a Future' benefit for Haiti

JAMI KELMENSON Special to the AmNews | 1/18/2012, 6:06 p.m.
Jan. 12 marked the second anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude cataclysmic earthquake that devastated Haiti....
Passion fuels second annual C2C 'Hope and a Future' benefit for Haiti

Jan. 12 marked the second anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude cataclysmic earthquake that devastated Haiti. While media attention may have fizzled, the spirit and consciousness of the Haitian community and its supporters were alive and thriving at Community2Community's (C2C) second annual "Hope and a Future" benefit concert for Haiti. Produced by Elona Dotson of Psalmist Productions Inc., the electrifying, spectacular cultural milestone took place at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Jan. 13.

The concert's move to Brooklyn, home to the largest Haitian community stateside with more than 86,000 Haitian residents, seemed only fitting. There was no border between stage and audience, no sense of distance or fourth wall for the more than 50 performers as they sang, rapped, danced and showcased their talents and gifts over the course of three and a half hours.

The energy was transformational and contagious. It was evident in C2C founder Marie-Yolaine Eusebe's spontaneous conversation at the close of the event; she emerged as if from a black shadow, landing center stage to repeat words gleaned from the crowd-"incredible," "awesome" and "beautiful"-in response to her question, "So what did you think?"

The audience was still on its feet during the finale, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," which was performed by the ensemble known as the Friends of Haiti. The stage was drenched in a sea of rust-colored satin as members of the Christian Cultural Center Mass Choir rocked and roused the audience.

The evening was off to a momentous start when the Coalition Dance Company set the mood with a look back to a time of vibrancy and kinship in Haiti. A stream of colorful costumes and sweeping modern dance moves set to a jazz piece aptly called "Hot Music," choreographed by Jessica Lynch, swept the audience back to Jan. 10, 2010-two days before the earthquake.

Following the dance, the five-piece house band of stellar musicians under the direction of musical director Rob Robinson erupted in a cacophony of vibration and sound. The stage was ablaze in flashing lights, reverberating and resonating to represent Jan. 12, 2010, the day of the earthquake.

The earthquake's aftermath was symbolized by the show's two signature ceremonial tributes. "The Memorial of Lights" lined the aisles with candles held by Haitian-American members of law enforcement and veterans' organizations in remembrance of the lives lost. This was immediately followed by a numerical "35 Seconds" video countdown encouraging the audience to "pause to remember and never forget" what happened in Haiti.

A series of moving vignettes, spoken word, rap and vocal tributes ensued; most notable was Barbara King's rendition of "Seasons of Love" from the hit musical "Rent," in which the familiar refrain "five hundred twenty-five thousand/ six hundred minutes/ how do you measure, measure a year?" took on heightened meaning.

New this year were two video presentations that brought Haiti to us. As part of the year in review, Eusebe practically reached through the camera to have us understand that while the water flowing from the spring she stood by looked clean, it must be treated with purification tablets in order to be used by the community. The spring was built by C2C volunteers working in tandem with a team on the ground in Haiti.