Local musicians band together for Uganda benefit

Mother and son Jemima James and Willy Mason performed together at an Island Moon Coffeehouse event in January. —Photo by Larisa Stinga

This Friday, a group of local musicians will perform a one-night-only show at Rosewater Market & Take Away in Edgartown. The event, “Songs and Dance for Uganda,” is a fundraiser for Local Women Global Mission, an organization dedicated to raising funds for a variety of organizations based in Africa.

Friday’s impressive lineup includes Willy Mason, Jemima James, Isaac Taylor, and Elissa Turnbull. Mr. Mason tours all over the world, headlining shows and opening for such acts as Mumford and Sons. Although he is on the road much of the year, Mr. Mason often performs at fundraising events or free shows when he is on the Vineyard, where he grew up.

His mother, Jemima James, has enjoyed a very successful career as a folk/country artist and songwriter. Isaac Taylor, who has been performing more and more frequently on the Vineyard as of late, has a very moving singing voice and a unique songwriting style. Elissa Turnbull, another talented singer/songwriter, has performed with a number of local bands. This is the first time that these four musicians have appeared together. Each musician will perform an individual set.

Food and beverages from the Rosewater menu will be available for purchase. There are small tables for dining on one side while the market side will accommodate the musicians, with room for dancing.

The show was organized by Local Women Global Mission founders Lila Fischer and Hannah Kahl. Ms. Fischer is a midwife who has worked for a birth center in Africa run by Motherhealth International. She is hoping to raise money for baby blankets and a baby scale for the center. Ms. Kahl is involved with an organization called Women’s Microfinance Initiative, whose mission, according to their website, is “to establish village-level loan hubs to provide capital, training, and support services to rural women in the lowest income brackets in East Africa so that they can engage in income-producing activities.”

The other two projects which will benefit from Friday’s event are a school in Atiak, Uganda, which is in desperate need of a new roof, and a fledgling scholarship program which is funding a young man’s nursing school education.

Ms. Fischer and Ms. Kahl have been involved with their respective causes since 2011. Upon their return from Uganda, the two women were able to recruit other locals to help with their fundraising efforts. “There are four people that really are managing and planning,” says Ms. Fischer. “We are supported by many other Island people.”

Local Women Global Mission have held a number of fundraising and awareness-raising events on the Vineyard, including a panel discussion at the Harbor View Hotel, a project with the Chilmark School, and a yoga class. They also hosted a house-party fundraiser in Boston last year.

Both Ms. Fischer and Ms. Kahl plan to return to Uganda in January.

For the upcoming show, the group initially reached out to Mr. Mason, who was a classmate of both Ms. Fischer and Ms. Kahl. “I went to school with Willy. He has been a long-term friend,” says Ms. Fischer. “It was not hard to convince any of them [the musicians] to help out. They were all enthusiastic about it.”

“Songs and Dance for Uganda”: Dec. 18, 5 to 8 pm, Rosewater Market, 20 South Summer Street, Edgartown. $10 suggested donation. For more information, contact Lila Fischer at lifischer@gmail.com or 508-939-0404, or visit the Local Women Global Mission site at localwomenglobalmission.wordpress.com.