On Friday night, fans, friends, alumni and family celebrated ´Til Dawn’s 25th anniversary with an incredible virtual concert, raising nearly $9,000 for its scholarship fund.
The virtual SING OUT! was a beautiful commemoration of 25 years of ´Til Dawn. TD alums Delta Rae and Drew Gasparini were the event’s headliners. Delta Rae’s uplifting four-song performance showcased their “gospel-tinged country-rock, sensual blue-eyed soul and harmony-laden Americana” roots. Drew’s playful, intimate three-song performance was pop/rock perfection, and Lily Elise, Jessie Land, Matt Herrero, and Harmela Beyene each contributed jaw-dropping one-song features that demonstrated the vitality and talent of Still Dawn, ´Til Dawn’s alumni. Happnstance, which includes TD alums Sean Simerly and Maria Pougiales-Posey, warmed up the audience with a pre-show performance.
The event also featured five wonderful videos ´Til Dawn recorded while sheltering in place, a stirring retrospective for the pre-COVID 2019 group, and heartwarming collaboration between ´Til Dawn and Still Dawn on John Legend’s If You’re Out There.
“Under normal circumstances, at the SING OUT! we’re singing together in person. It’s part celebration, part concert, part community event,” said longtime director Austin Willacy. “Though we couldn’t be together in place this year, we knew we had to find a way to celebrate 25 years of ‘Til Dawn, and with the collaboration of a killer team, we created something so good I’m still coming down from the high of it.”
Besides the excellent music, several current group members and alumni spoke about the impact of ´Til Dawn on their lives in high school, and as adults.Some spoke about the value of learning to speak and perform in public, as well as learning to give and receive feedback. Nearly everyone said they had made lifelong friends.
They also spoke about what they had learned from their mentor and director Austin. Austin, a singer/songwriter who records as a solo artist and with The House Jacks, has led the group for more than 20 years.
“I am who I am today because of this group and Austin,” said ´Til Dawn singer Anna McShea. “He has encouraged me to be my most authentic self.”
Another ´Til Dawn singer, Ian Sotnick, said the experience has taught him “more than any school can teach in a lifetime.”
Photo credits: Delta Rae photo, Shervin Lainez; Austin Willacy photo, Tim Porter
Delta Rae, the North Carolina-based Americana band built around the masterful songwriting, emotive vocals and sublime harmonies of 4 ‘Til Dawn alums, just signed a record deal with Warner Brothers. Siblings Ian, Eric and Britanny Hölljes grew up together in San Rafael, but through ‘Til Dawn met, befriended and formed a durable musical kinship with Liz Hopkins, another ‘Til Dawn alumna from San Rafael. Long before Delta Rae’s existence, they sang together on ‘Til Dawn’s award-winning CD, Songs in the Key of AWESOME. They talk in a recent Washington Post article about what it is like for them to work all in the family. Grant Emerson and Mike McKee are the rhythm section.
Austin Willacy, `Til Dawn Director states, “Delta Rae’s songs, voices and live show are so undeniable that a record deal was inevitable. They are some of the hardest working, most talented and grounded people I know.”
Delta Rae was signed by Seymour Stein, Vice President of Warner Brothers who signed The Ramones and Madonna and recently received a lifetime achievement award from billboard.
“Their music touches on all aspects of Americana – Gospel, Country, Bluegrass, and Blues. That said the songs are strong pop and have wide appeal.”
– Seymour Stein, co-founder Sire Records and VP at Warner Bros. Records