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Mary Porter and Friends to Present a Benefit Concert at the Wilson Center

The Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College is pleased to announce that multi-talented singer, international performer, and recording artist Mary Porter will present a benefit concert, “Mary Porter and Friends – A Charity Celebration,” at the Wilson Center. She will be joined on stage by talented musicians and artists from around the world, including singer/songwriter Renée Armand, and this exciting fund- raising event will be directed by Wilmington arts stalwart Ray Kennedy. The concert will take place on Sunday, July 17, 2022, at 3 p.m., and will raise funds to benefit the Good Shepherd Center, The Feast Gathering, and Broadway for a Better World.

Please note that this is anticipated to be a full-capacity event, and will adhere to all local and state guidelines at the time of the show. Tickets may be purchased online at www.WilsonCenterTickets.com, or by contacting the Ticket Central box office. Ticket Central is open for telephone and in-person sales from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Ticket Central may be reached by telephone at 910.362.7999; questions may also be directed to tickets@wilsoncentertickets.com.

Mary Porter

Mary Porter’s professional life has taken her around the country and across the globe, but began right here in North Carolina. Growing up on her family’s farm in eastern North Carolina, Porter could drive a tractor before she learned to play the piano, but was playing piano at her family church by age 13. She played piano and directed the youth choir until she left for college.

Porter discovered a love of classical music, Broadway music, and even opera, but it wasn’t until her 30’s that her gift of song was fully realized. She continued training and performing, being featured as a soloist in several concerts with members of the North Carolina Symphony, and even performed at Carnegie Hall under the baton of John Rutter. Her foundation in church music continues to inform her career, as she has worked with and contributed to numerous churches in North Carolina and beyond.

After moving to St. John, USVI, Porter played piano and sang in the choir at Emmaus Moravian Church. As an international musician and performer, she has headlined concerts in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. In addition to her musical success, Porter has also seen success as a fashion designer, has appeared on television, and has also been successful in business and real estate.

Renée Armand

Renée Armand has a unique musical career that spans more than 50 years as a songwriter and singer. She recorded “The Morning After” on the soundtrack for the film “The Poseidon Adventure”, which won an Oscar in 1973 for Best Original Song. Armand toured with and recorded with John Denver for years. Johnny Mathis and Michael Jackson had hits with her song “One Day in Your Life” and she has worked with other musical icons like Linda Ronstadt and Ringo Starr. At age 17, she sang with John Handy’s fusion band and was first discovered by Tony Bennett in San Francisco in 1972. Soon after, she recorded her first album and was the last singer for Harry James and Woody Herman.  

Armand’s live performances have taken her to every major city in the US, Japan, and Europe as well as Sydney Opera House, Madison Square Gardens, Albert Hall and now, The Wilson Center!  Since the 80s, she enjoys her time on her farm outside of Nashville, where she continues to write songs, perform, plow the fields, tend her garden, and swim in her pond. She and Mary Porter first met in Puerto Vallarta on Easter Sunday in 2019. Armand was there to perform for a week and heard Porter sing at a spontaneous open mic. It was Armand that encouraged Mary Porter to start performing again. On Porter’s latest release, Songs for the Soul, three recordings feature the beautiful harmonies from Renée Armand. 

Mark Hartman

Mark Hartman is an award-winning and New York-based pianist, coach, conductor, arranger, and composer working in theater, cabaret, and concerts around the world. Hartman is the recipient of three MAC Awards, the Backstage Bistro Award for Music Direction, and a 2022 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Orchestrations. In New York, his talents have graced many stages including the famed Cafe Carlyle, Birdland, Iridium, Ars Nova, and the Zandel Stage at Carnegie Hall. In cabaret, Mark has performed at Feinstein’s 54 Below (NYC), Feinstein’s at the Nikko (SF), Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael (IN), and internationally in London at Crazy Coqs and The Pheasantry; in Greece at Montparnasse; in Mexico at Incanto and The Palm (Puerto Vallarta) and Palacio de Bellas Artes (San Miguel de Allende).  

Hartman is one of the esteemed Music Directors for the Cabaret and Performance Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (John McDaniel, Artistic Director). Broadway credits include: Sondheim On Sondheim! and Avenue Q. Off-Broadway and regional credits include: The Streets Of New YorkThe FantasticksWest Side StorySunday In The Park With GeorgeSweeney Todd, and Cabaret. Mark is the arranger and music supervisor of the Stephen Schwartz revue Magic To Do, developed with Gabriel Barre and Jennifer Paulson Lee in 2015 for Princess Entertainment. A North Carolina native and UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, Hartman is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and the American Federation of Musicians.

Ray Kennedy

Ray Kennedy has worked his entire life in the entertainment industry. An award-winning theatre director/choreographer, he has worked with Opera House Theatre Company since 1987. His work has also been seen at The Kennedy Center, ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Celebration” in Times Square, “One Tree Hill,” “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” as well in the Fashion arena for New York Fashion Week. His company, Kennedy Entertainment, Inc., has produced critically acclaimed cruise ship revues (The New York Times and Chicago Tribune) all over the world, including the Queen Elizabeth 2, American Hawaii Cruises, and Royal Olympic’s Stella Solaris.    

Kennedy is currently an Associate Producer with Opera House Theatre Company and is involved in casting, fundraising events, and show production; he is also a published playwright. His play, “The Thursday Day Night Bridge Circle,” debuted last year, and will be performed in Vancouver, Canada, in September 2022. He also worked for six years with the New York Gala for “The African Children Choir,” and in Wilmington with “A Safe Place” and the CARE Project Gala.    

About Good Shepherd Center

The mission of Good Shepherd Center is to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and foster transition to housing. Established in 1983 as a modest soup kitchen, Good Shepherd has grown to become the largest provider of homeless services in the region. Current programs include the Soup Kitchen which serves over 89,000 meals a year; Second Helpings food salvage and distribution program; Sgt. Eugene Ashley Center providing transitional and permanent supportive housing for Veterans and men with disabilities; a Day Shelter providing the homeless with access to showers, clothing, transportation, and on-site mental health and health services; and a Night Shelter with 118 beds for homeless men, women, and families with children. Good Shepherd recently opened SECU Lakeside Reserve, an affordable housing unit with 40 apartments for chronically homeless adults with disabilities, including seniors and veterans.

About The Feast Gathering

The Feast Gathering is an uncommon ministry as it engages people where they are, not where society suggests they should be. Both housed and unhoused people come together over a purpose known to all people: food. Just as business relationships are often forged over a meal, coming together at a common table where the playing field is leveled will be fertile ground for friendships to form. Jesus ate his way through the Gospels, as gathering over a meal is peppered throughout Jesus’s ministry. He did not force anyone to stay or to do things the way he thought they should. By accepting people where they are, just as Jesus did, Feast Gathering creates an atmosphere and culture where self-respect, self-worth, and dignity are paramount. By developing interpersonal relationships through a regular worship community at a table, the ministry hopes to transform lives of those in poverty as well as those interacting with those in poverty.

About Broadway For A Better World 

Since its inception, Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center has committed to being a true community resource. From high school graduations to free-of-charge dance residency performances, the Center hosts thousands of young people and underserved community members — but that’s only the beginning! Through the generosity of private donors and a grant program administered by the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, the Broadway for a Better World initiative provides free-of-charge tickets to the Wilson Center’s PNC Broadway & Stars Series. The mission of this program is to make the theater experience and all of its associated benefits available to underserved populations, particularly young people under the age of eighteen.

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