Derri Lee is chairman of the organising committee for ‘Lean on Me’ – the benefit concert for Nina Orrett-Ebanks on Saturday, 8 July.
Derri, who has earned no small measure of acclaim for her own singing, is one of Nina’s many fans who have missed hearing her voice recently.
The benefit concert is ‘a lot of responsibility,’ Derri said this week, ‘but I have a good committee and a lot of volunteers to help out on the night.’
She also has a lot of on-stage talent to co-ordinate. Initially, Derri related, she would contact people and ask them if they would be interested in taking part.
‘They all said they’d be pleased and honoured to be on the show. They love Nina and want to do anything to help her out. And now, I’ve even had people calling me,’ Derri related.
According to Nina’s mother, Daphne Orrett, the popular artist has been singing publicly since she was a pre-schooler. Widely known in West Bay, where she grew up, Nina gained fame island-wide when she starred in the high school production, ‘Cinderella 2000’.
In 1980, she joined the list of local talent in the annual ‘Magic Showcase’. Through the years she has been guest soloist at scores of weddings, funerals and graduations. She has taken part in benefit concerts herself. In 1990 and ’91, she organised ‘Old Cayman Christmas’ shows to bring the community together on Christmas Eve.
A song writer as well as an engaging stage personality, she recorded an album, ‘Nina, At Last’ in the late 1990s and it sold out. One of the songs on that tape was ‘Lean on Me’.
Nina could use a little help right now. In February, after years of suffering, she underwent surgery in Miami and had a tumour the size of a golf ball removed from her brain (Caymanian Compass, 15 March).
Six weeks later, she was still in pain, but Nina described it as a pain of healing. A new source of headache came from the travel expenses and medical bills that would not be covered by insurance.
Still she remained upbeat. ‘Let people know there’s going to be a big comeback concert as soon as I’m capable of singing and rehearsing without pain,’ she said in March. ‘I definitely want to thank the entire Cayman Islands for their prayers and support.’
This week she reiterated her thanks. ‘Please continue to pray for me as I recover,’ she asked.
The concert at the Lions Centre on 8 July won’t be that comeback yet. But it will be a celebration of music, friendship and community as participants try to raise a substantial portion of the $32,000 in bills outstanding for Nina’s care.
Singers, musicians, models, comedians and other performers will offer a variety of entertainment, while Derri and the Friends of Nina committee have solicited door prizes and arranged for food sales and other refreshments.
Gates open at 6pm at the Lions Centre; showtime is 6.30pm.
Tickets to Lean on Me will be available at the door. They can be purchased in advance from Reflections and Funky Tangs, or committee members Derri Lee, Caren Thompson or Anita Khan. Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for children. Youngsters under five are free, but must be accompanied by an adult.