Benefit concert to aid earthquake survivors

Fernando Varela and his wife, Susan Williams, sing holiday music during “Believe: A Family Christmas Concert” at The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center.

After hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through Puerto Rico in 2017, tenor Fernando Varela quickly teamed up with The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center to put on a benefit concert, ultimately raising more than $1 million through the concert, its livestream and other efforts. In the wake of recent devastating earthquakes, Varela is bringing his show “Four Divo” to The Sharon for another benefit concert for the island where he was born. Varela, along with fellow vocalists Josh Page, Devin Eatmon and Craig Irvin, as well as other featured performers including Susan Williams, Sonido Tré, David Foster’s band and more, will perform the concert March 7 through March 9 at The Sharon.

Performances are at 7 p.m. March 7 and March 9 and at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 8.

Tickets range from $35 to $95 and are available online at thevillagesentertainment.com or at any Villages Box Office location.

Varela is nationally known for his appearances on “America’s Got Talent” and his history of touring with David Foster, and is a familiar name locally for his many performances on The Sharon stage.

He also is the executive director of the arts outreach organization Victory Productions, which has brought acts like The Beach Boys, Don Felder, Louie Anderson, Kansas and more to The Villages.

“I’m proud of how The Villages stepped up when we did our hurricane relief, and I’m happy to put on another show now to help the victims of these earthquakes,” Varela said. “This isn’t as widespread, but it’s still as devastating for the people affected.”

The money is being raised through PRxPR, an organization that invests 100% of donations into the most critically affected communities in Puerto Rico, according to PRxPR’s website.

To learn more, visit prxpr.org.

“We love doing these shows, and it’s such a magical feeling to know that you did something to help people,” Page said. “I’m really thankful that Fernando is doing this and that he invited me to be involved.”

Page co-founded the vocal group and “America’s Got Talent” finalist Forte with Varela, and a lot of the material for which Forte became known on the show will be featured in “Four Divo.”

“The show is a wonderful collection of powerful tenor songs,” Varela said. “Most of the show is in English.”

Varela said the show will feature classics such as “Unchained Melody,” “My Heart Will Go On” and more.

“We really want people to leave a show like this and feel like they saw most of their favorite songs interpreted in a fresh, new powerful way,” Page said. “It’s about creating memories. So many of these songs have been with people throughout their entire life.”

Eatmon, a Harold S. Schwartz Music Scholarship recipient and Villages Charter School alumnus, will perform with Page and Varela, along with Irvin, another popular name in The Villages.

“He’s a wonderful friend of mine and an incredible performer,” Varela said of Irvin. “Devin Eatmon is of the next generation. He’s a young, incredible tenor who grew up in The Villages. He’s doing big things at a very young age.”

Williams, Varela’s wife, will be featured as the female soprano to help blend the palette. Sonido Tré, a Puerto Rican music group, will add a Latin flair to some of the songs, Varela said.

“This is a tribute to Puerto Rican music, as well,” he said.

Page and his brother, Zach, also have a music group together called Brothers Page, which has gained a large following on Instagram.

“Josh and his brother are just wonderful songwriters, and they’re great performers,” Varela said.

Varela said he hopes the concert brings people together.

“I think that’s the power in music,” he said. “We can all come together in that moment, in that concert and experience the beauty and power of music. … We want to let the people who are suffering in Puerto Rico know that they matter and we’re going to come together and do our part to ease their suffering.”

Elizabeth Constant, booking coordinator at The Sharon, said she loves seeing artists support their roots and use their talents for a good cause.

“(Varela) is very inspiring in the way he helps communities in need,” Constant said. “Four Divo knows the weight their name carries in this community. They continue to bring in large excited crowds each year at The Sharon, and with their name recognition, they are using their popularity for good and to help others in need. I think that’s very commendable.”

Senior writer Kristen Fiore can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5270, or kristen.fiore@thevillagesmedia.com.