Q&A: Lilly Sutton, Co-organizer of a Benefit Concert for Survivors of Storm Haiyan

Along with Bob Grimac, Lilly Sutton has organized a benefit concert Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. She and RB Morris will perform to help the survivors of Storm Haiyan.

Why did this tragedy in the Philippines particularly strike you?

There was a video on the news of a woman standing behind a wire fence, crying, asking for water. Your heart goes out to someone who's in pain. These people are hungry, homeless, and grieving. I had been planning a concert for the release of my first music CD, but this event seemed like a better idea.

Why were Bob Grimac and RB Morris willing to get on board?

I've known both of them for a long time, so I guess they trust me. Bob extends himself to a lot of people, especially refugees. He was the first person I asked to help me, and he was all for it! He's a very positive person with a heart of gold. RB also has a generous spirit, and I knew that he'd help if he was in town. He's a compelling solo performer, and I think he has just the right presence for this type of event.

Will your work teaching the Alexander Technique play any part in this concert?

Alexander Technique is known for improving posture and relieving back and neck pain, and teaches you how to be more aware of yourself, physically and mentally. That way, you have more choice about how you respond to situations. It's helped me a lot with stage fright and I'll definitely be using it at the concert. It helps me to calm down, breath easy, and enjoy the present moment. I used to get so scared, I didn't enjoy performing. Now I love it. Before, I wouldn't have considered doing something like this.

Have you worked musically with RB before?

Not yet. I love singing harmony, and it would be fun to sing with him sometime.

What kind of things will the concert donations provide after Storm Haiyan?

Food, water, medical supplies—basic needs for survival.

How will the money get from here to there?

I'm taking the donations we receive to our local Red Cross.

How can someone help who can't make the concert?

You can make a donation to the Red Cross and designate it for International Services. The address is 6921 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37909. Phone: 865-584-2999

What's the most fun about the concert?

It's been fun getting all the "likes" on Facebook. We'll have a good time for a good cause. When I announce how much money we raised, we'll all cheer and jump in the air! I think everyone will leave with a good feeling.

Anything else appealing about the event?

The Three Rivers Market is donating some food, and the Fresh Market is donating flowers for the reception. Some of the church members and my students are bringing finger food. TVUUC's sanctuary is a beautiful space with wonderful acoustics. I like what they represent in our community. Support for an event like this is typical of East Tennesseans. I'm grateful to live here, a place where people care.

Doors for the event will open at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at TVUUC (2931 Kingston Pike); admission free to the public but donations encouraged; reception to follow.