Bethlehem Press

Sunday, May 31, 2020

21st Lehigh Valley Music Awards March 1

Friday, February 28, 2020 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Focus

It’s a big night for the local music scene as local musicians, music schools and students will be honored at the 21st Annual Lehigh Valley Music Awards (LVMA), 4 p.m. March 1, Musikfest Cafe, SteelStacks, Bethlehem.

“We’re very excited,” says Gloria Domina, LVMA co-director. “Everything has just fallen into place his year and we have a wonderful line-up.”

A partnership between the nonprofit Greater Lehigh Valley Music Association and ArtsQuest, the LVMA was created to celebrate the region’s music scene.

During the music-filled awards ceremony, awards honoring the region’s best performers in a variety of genres including blues, rock, folk, gospel, hip-hop, jazz and more will be presented.

Part of the mission of the awards is to highlight youth musicians and encourage them to realize their dreams, Domina says.

Ten-year-old cancer survivor Coco Lazaridis will receive the Community Youth Award.

Coco was diagnosed with an extremely rare childhood leukemia, juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) when she was three-months-old. The disease affects only one in one million children each year.

In 2010, Coco’s mother founded the Coco Foundation to help those impacted by pediatric cancer. After a bone marrow transplant, Coco is nearly 10 years in remission and is considered one of the best gymnasts in the United States. She works out every day at Parkettes Gymnastics, Allentown, and has been recruited by The Pennsylvania State University.

Knowing firsthand the hardships of hospital stays and treatments, Coco and her family remained committed to providing financial support through the Coco Foundation for families and their children going through similar situations.

Every year, Coco Foundation board members serve dinner at the Ronald McDonald House, Philadelphia, where Coco’s parents stayed when Coco was in eating-therapy classes.

For the annual Coco Foundation “Holiday Toy Drive,” Coco helps bring toys to children in hospitals. She also participates in other fundraising events throughout the Lehigh Valley, including the “Tee Time for Coco Golf Tournament.”

“We are so honored to be able to bring awareness to Coco and the Coco Foundation,” says Domina. “Coco’s spirit lights up the room and makes you feel grateful that her journey has turned into something so positive.”

The LVMA will honor four local students who stand out for their performances, in school and onstage with Youth Education Scholarship Awards.

Emmaus High School senior Rhys Williams is a multi-faceted musician who plans to pursue songwriting and vocal performance in college. He participates in the arts at his school, singing in Choral, Select Choir and Fermata Nowhere, an all-male a cappella ensemble, and is assistant music director and pianist for the spring musical. Williams has attended Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District, Region and State Chorus and is a Choral Scholar with the Bethlehem Bach Choir. He plays cello in the Emmaus Orchestra, holding second seat in the chamber orchestra, Sinfonia and cello ensemble, and previously performed with the Young People’s Philharmonic. His original songs were featured at Touchstone Theatre’s “Festival UnBound” last fall.

Bangor Area High School multi-instrumentalist Steffani Smith plays trumpet and piano. She performs in numerous Bangor ensembles, including concert band, symphonic band, jazz band, marching band, pep band and pit orchestra. She also has participated in several extracurricular ensembles, including the COTA Cats at the annual COTA Jazz Festival, Allentown Band side-by-side concert, County Band, Moravian College Alfa Track program and the HMI jazz combo program at Penn State. Smith attended PMEA District Band, District Jazz and Region Band. She wants to study music education in college, and join the Army before pursuing a career post-graduate.

Allison Bressette is a senior at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts where she majors in guitar, focusing on classical playing and music theory. She is a former student of the School of Rock, Easton, where she is a member of the house band, the Bank Street Band, which performs in the Lehigh Valley. She has performed in 10 School of Rock concerts. She plans to continue her musical education at Moravian College, minoring in guitar and majoring in Health Sciences.

Jadyn Lynah, a student at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, has been singing and acting since she was 5-years-old and won an “America’s Got Talent” competition in Scranton when she was 11. Her dream is to perform in musicals professionally. She has appeared in several musicals locally, with her favorite roles being Tracy in “Hairspray” and Rafiki in “The Lion King.”

“We’re really proud to highlight our students and to fertilize their seeds of talent,” Domina says. “We can be a small part in helping them reach their dreams.”

Other awards announced include Lifetime Achievement Award to Alexander Kristof and in memory Dave Smith; Board of Directors Award to David Happel, Chelsea Meyer and Rosemary Murdy-Haber; 20-Year Honoree to Paula Battavio, Brian Brazil, Dina Hall, Bill Parker and Scott Siska, and Special Recognition Honoree to Dave Phillips Music & Sound Inc., Guitar Villa, Hawk Music Center, and West End Music.

The awards ceremony, hosted by actor and director Daniel Roebuck and deejay Freddie Frederick Jr. will feature performances from the Aardvarks, Sarah Ayers Band, Big Valley Bluegrass, Billy Bauer Band, Luisito Rosario & Orchestra, MB Pro Showcase and Regina Sayles.

Domina says there will be a theatrical performance by Brookel Sabella for the first time in the LVMA history and Seth Witcher will perform the National Anthem on a guitar he made himself.

Ticket information: www.lehighvalleymusicawards.org; www.steelstacks.org; 610-332-3378