Idol Stars to Sing for South Shore Sandy Relief
It's been two years since Devyn Rush, Robbie Rosen, Caleb Hawley and Karen Rodriguez performed for Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and millions of at-home viewers during Season 10 of "American Idol."
But on Thursday evening, the four Idol alums will once again share a stage ... in Malverne, of all places. Instead of competing for votes, the performers will also be singing for a greater cause -- the many local families still trying to put their lives back together months after superstorm Sandy.
The "Singing 4 Sandy Benefit Concert" will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 7, inside the 750-seat auditorium at Howard T. Herber Middle School (75 Ocean Ave., Malverne).
Since all four performers live in New York, they've seen first-hand how Sandy ravaged the region. Merrick native Robbie Rosen, 19, even had a tree tear through his bedroom the night the storm hit.
"Thank God I was not in the room when it happened," he said. "It was scary, but we didn't get nearly as much damage as other people whose entire homes were swept away or flooded with five feet of water ... To this day, there are people who don't have a home or have no heat in this terrible cold [weather]. It's heartbreaking. So many people need help."
The Calhoun High School graduate and Hofstra University music major performed for hurricane victims in Breezy Point in November and at a Sandy benefit hosted by Music Power NY at the Tilles Center, but Thursday's concert will specifically help families on the South Shore.
"The devastation on the South Shore was tremendous, and we wanted to address the needs on the local level," Robbie's father, Matt Rosen, a social worker for the Malverne School District, told Patch.
Matt Rosen said that Long Beach students will attend the event, and Long Beach will be one of its beneficiaries.
In early January, Robbie reached out to his Idol friends, who "were so excited to give back through music," and they've been working together ever since to prepare for the show. "It's been a lot of work, but I know it will all be worth it," he says.
The concert was originally scheduled to take place at another venue, but when plans changed, Matt Rosen reached out to Malverne school officials. Without hesitation, they agreed to hold the event at Herber. The program will be sponsored by Herber's Community Service Club and hosted by 106.1 BLI.
"This district has a heart and always has," Rosen said.
The Malverne School District will be providing the venue, security and supervision. Malverne alum Greg Monahan volunteered to handle the sound, and all four performers, as well as radio personality Astra from 106.1 BLI, are donating their time and talents. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the concert will go to local families affected by Sandy.
The money will be distributed through local school districts, who are familiar with the families and their needs. Some students from the hardest hit areas will also be invited to attend the concert through the generosity of several sponsors.
The 40-plus student members of Herber's Community Service Club will be working before, during and after the concert, coming up with ideas, publicizing the event, and on the night of the show, serving as liaisons to the performers and handing out playbills.
The concert is not the first project the club has undertaken to help local families affected by Sandy. In early November, as soon as they returned to school, they launched a drive to collect school supplies for Island Park students. The group also collected 2,000 cans of food, baby supplies and clothing for the INN in Hempstead.
"This won't be our last project either," Matt Rosen added. "As devastating as hurricanes are, they bring out the best in people, bringing communities and families together."
The concert is not only a way for the students and performers to help those still struggling, but every person who purchases a ticket or makes a donation can have a positive impact, he explained.
It's also an opportunity for those recovering from the storm to "enjoy a night of entertainment," away from the problems they have been dealing with since Sandy hit.
"These are four working musicians who not only have a heart, but tremendous talent they are willing to share," Rosen added.
Robbie, himself, promises a good show.
"Whether you're an Idol fan or not, you'll see four really diverse and unique performers all in one event," he said.
Unlike any other concert he's performed in, Robbie says Thursday's show will be special and symbolic. Since leaving Idol, the four performers have each gone their separate ways, musically, Rosen explained.
"The fact that we are able to come together will be representative of what Long Islanders have always done," he says. "No matter how different our lives may be, or how we were affected, Long Island is reuniting ... and truly encompassing what 'Strong Island' is all about."
Tickets for the concert are $8 per student, $15 for adults, and can be purchased in advanced or at the door. (To buy tickets, ask questions or make a donation, contact Matt Rosen at 516-887-6458.)
As a final pitch for the event, Robbie adds, "The more money raised, the more families that can be helped and return to some sort of normalcy."