On March 14, at 7 pm, Rick Bausman and his band, Tracing Infinity, will perform alongside a slew of talented Island singers and musicians, with the goal of sending 100 kids in Haiti to school for an entire year.
The performance is being organized by the Interact Club — a service-based club that highlights community involvement and builds leadership skills in young people. The Interact Club is under the umbrella of Rotary International.
Onstage there will be a colorful combination of native drums, guitars, vocalists, and pianos.
It costs $100 to send an individual child to school in Haiti, including paying for uniforms, materials, and tuition. That means that each $10 admission fee will make a big difference in a child’s life.
Bausman’s nonprofit organization, Rhythm of Life, provides ensemble drumming experiences and interactive performances to groups of all ages and levels of ability on the Island. “Through contact with the instruments and music of other cultures, we become aware of our place in the global community, and increase our understanding of those around us,” according to the Rhythm of Life website.
Bausman said the opportunities afforded to many children in the U.S. are out of reach for children in Third World countries. With each community member in the audience contributing $10, Bausman said, it is possible to provide an incredible experience at little cost.
“The idea is that our community has an incredible opportunity to have a great time together,” Bausman said. And because of the low cost of admission, Bausman said, this enables the average person, who isn’t capable of contributing large amounts directly, to make a difference.
According to Bausman, there has not been another event like this on the Island, with so many different musicians playing together on one stage for a single cause.
“This year’s event will feature many of the Island’s best musicians donating their time and their talent. I don’t think there has ever been anything like this in the Island’s history; we have the ability to make a huge impact on these kids,” Bausman said. “These kids could have an incredible opportunity to go to school in a very poor area. They are all incredibly talented and smart, but they don’t have the same opportunities as kids do in America.”
For Bausman, the concert exemplifies the togetherness of both the Island community and the Haitian community.
Bausman and some of his drumming students have been in Haiti learning about vodoun culture, and acquiring some unique drumming patterns to add to their repertoire. They will feature some of those new rhythms at the performance at the PAC.
Mike Alberice, a drummer and former student of Bausman, said he was impressed by the positive attitudes of villagers in Haiti, and how despite many hardships, they always get together to sing, dance, and have fun. “The people there are so warm and happy, even in some very poor conditions. When they are drumming and singing together, it’s really representative of their tight-knit community,” Alberice said.
Alberice said he hopes to bring a taste of Haitian culture to the PAC with his drumming.
“It was really incredible for them to show us some of their drumming patterns and styles. We want to show the people here some of those patterns that really embody the lifestyle there,” Alberice said.
According to Imani Hall and Rose Herman, co-presidents of the Interact Club, the Haiti project is a huge initiative that touches people far away.
“This is a great way to get kids involved in community service. Some kids want to get involved, but they don’t know how to access those programs,” Hall said.
Throughout the year, Interact has been fundraising for this effort with bake sales and other events. According to Herman, the Rotary Club was so impressed with the ambition of the students philanthropists, they donated $1,000 to the cause.
After the donation and the bake sale, Interact had $2,400 to send to Haiti to support the kids.
Although the two students are not performing in the concert, their role in the performance is a big one. “We handle a lot of the fundraising and advertising. We are even putting together a silent auction,” Herman said. “We have lots of people with different connections who want to help.”
The club meets every week at school during an open period for 40 minutes to discuss ways to get the community involved with public service.
According to Herman, it is very difficult for kids in Haiti to get an education because of the system of government. “The reason kids can’t go to school is because they have very strict rules regarding education. You have to have a specific type of uniform, and lots of families are oppressed,” Herman said.
Thanks to the efforts of members of the Interact Club and Rhythm of Life, one woman in Haiti is now going to law school, and is inspiring the rest of her community. “It is so amazing for this small village to have a representative and see someone who is breaking through a lot of the boundaries to education,” Herman said.
Hall said she has an adopted sister from Haiti, so for her, this initiative is especially exciting.
“We just hope the turnout is good at the PAC so that makes it makes up for all the planning,” Hall said. “We need to fill up that room as much as possible.”
One goal of the Haiti project for Interact, according to Hall, is to revive the club and get other students interested in joining. “The club kind of fell apart, but this year we are trying to bring the club back to its maximum potential,” Hall said.
According to Hall, the main goal of the concert is to bring the Island together and fill a schoolhouse in Haiti with ambitious students who want to receive an education. “There’s not much to do during the winter. This concert will be a great time and will give people an opportunity to contribute to a great cause,” Hall said.
According to youth exchange officer for the Rotary Club Stephanie Burke, the concert is right in line with the overarching ambitions of the public service organization. “We help provide access to education and other services, focusing on increased literacy. The Rotary Club has built libraries, schools, and other education facilities,” Burke said.
Burke said the kids in Interact are very motivated in providing service to others, and are role models for other students who might want to get more involved.
“We are trying to support Rick’s work in Haiti. He has a wonderful vision,” Burke said. “It’s not going to be easy — social change is never easy, but it is very necessary.”
Check out the “Pack the PAC” concert at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center on March 14, starting at 7 pm. The performance costs $10 per person, and will feature some of the Island’s best musicians and singers, such as Rick Bausman, Anthony Esposito, Brian Weiland, Paul Thurlow, Stephen Hart, Nancy Jephcote, and many more. Tickets are for sale at the YMCA, and at both Cronig’s locations.