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Southwest Louisiana ,

Amanda Shaw to headline free benefit concert

Last Modified: Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:04 PM

By Cliff Seiber / American Press

Amanda Shaw, a fiddler and singer who was a headliner at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, will lead the “Musicale,” a concert Saturday, Oct. 27, to benefit literacy and educational programs in Southwest Louisiana.

The concert will be from 5 to 9 p.m. on the grounds of the Central School Arts and Humanities Center, 809 Kirby St. Proceeds will go to the Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana.

Along with Shaw’s band the Cute Guys, performers will include the Jay Ecker Trio, featuring local musicians Jay Ecker, Chester Daigle and Rick Condit.

In observance of Halloween, the Lake Charles Dance Academy, under the direction of Colleen Cannon Benoit, will appear in two performances of the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance in a graveyard set in front of the stage. The children and adults dressed in full zombie costumes as in the late pop star’s famous video.

Shaw, who was a prodigy fiddle player, song writer and singer, is now 22 and has performed across the U.S. and abroad. The New Orleans native sat for a telephone interview with the American Press this week.

Asked what genres her music falls into, she replied, “Music is just music. It’s about having fun. So labels don’t mean much.”

She does pay homage to her home state with traditional Cajun fiddle melodies, but her music also brings in jazz, blues and country conventions.

Her backup group of guitar, bass and drums shares vocal duties with her in their performances.

She sees her career as a story her mother read her as a child about a boy who had magic cowboy boots. They took him all over the world.

“My life has brought me so many great things. I’m thankful for all the great things I’ve been able to do,” she said.

Shaw passed on one potential great endeavor. She was asked to audition for the role of Hannah Montana but passed.

“I wanted to be true to my music,” she said.

She said she is excited to return to the Central School grounds, where she played at the Poor Pony Festival a few years ago.

Shaw has recorded three critically acclaimed albums, won a Big Easy Award for Best Female Entertainer and has had two feature roles in Disney movies.

While general admission to “Musicale” is free, 200 VIP tickets provide special amenities: Seats next to the stage and the graveyard for the best views; dinner cooked on-site by Nic Hunter and served with wine and special parking area. Valet parking is available for VIP patrons.

Food and drink vendors will sell their wares on the grounds.

The Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana was founded in 1988 to teach reading and writing to adults who have failed to acquire those skills. Since then, educational programs have been expanded to include teaching job skills, computer literacy, GED instruction and after-school tutoring programs.

Historically the council serves about 1,000 clients a year in five parishes. This year offices have been opened in Jefferson Davis and Beauregard parishes.

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