By LORRAINE THOMPSON
SAINT AUGUSTINE – They might not be able to see the standing ovations they often receive, but members of the Outta Sight music group certainly hear the applause and feel the vibes at their performances. Three members of the current group from the Florida School for the Blind and the Deaf are totally blind. Others are legally blind. But, according to Jim Carpenter, director of the group, all are naturally talented.
The group will once again perform at the Sons of Italy, St. Augustine Lodge 2780, annual January dinner concert starting at 6 p.m., Thursday, January 17, at Celebration Hall in the St. Enda of Aran Formation Center on the campus of St. Anastasia Catholic Church, 2015 A1A South, on Anastasia Island.
While the composition of the Outta Sight group varies each school year, Carpenter said this year’s group is composed of seven girls, two of whom are in middle school and the rest are high school. All are full time students at the Florida School for the Blind and Deaf located in St. Augustine. The group includes Diamond Caldwell on drums and vocals, Kaitlyn Deverson on guitar, bass and vocals, Meli Hatcher on the keyboard, and vocalists Camryn Johnson, Madison Wardell, Z’Leah Liburd, Brianna Cruz.
The Outta Sight music program was founded in 1994 by Bill Sabo who retired in 2016. That’s when Carpenter, who assisted Sabo for 19 years, took over the program. Sabo has since rejoined the group and serves as assistant director. Elizabeth Roth, a well-known local solo artist and songwriter (Grapes of Roth), is also an assistant director who has worked in the program since 2003.
“We all love the program,” Carpenter stated.
“Audiences are often moved emotionally to see and hear our students making music and doing it well and it is very satisfying for us to be their mentors. Everyone looks at them and gets focused on their disabilities. But they are not disabled when it comes to music. It’s a great job for a musician,” he said, referring to his own efforts with the group.
The legendary blind musician Ray Charles, who passed away in 2004, got his start in music while attending the Florida School for the Blind and the Deaf from 1937 to 1945.
Carpenter said this season’s concert goers can expect to hear classic rock music along with some recent tunes like “Sweet Talkin’ Guy,” “Teenager in Love,” “Zombie,” “Dreams,” “It’s a Heartache,” “Stand by Me,” “Happy,” and others.
The event is open to the public. Tickets are $15 per person and includes an entrée, desert and the performance. Soft drinks at $2 and beer and wine at $3 per serving will be available for purchase. Proceeds of the event will be used by the Sons of Italy for its continued donations to worthy St. Johns County charities and to support its scholarship fund.
For ticket information call Josephine Scher at 460-0975.