Jamie Klatt endured tragedy, loss and self-discovery since coming to The Villages nearly four years ago. He lost his mother, parted with his little brother and discovered his singing voice.
Klatt is now on the threshold as he says, “of living my dream,” thanks to Neil Diamond and the people in The Villages.
Klatt, 47, performs two shows of “The Neil Diamond Experience” Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Savannah Center. Singers Billie Thatcher, Donna Evans and Donna Fraley will also be on the bill along with a laser light show and sets and scenic designs by the imaginative Tom Fujawa. Ticket sales have been strong.
“I love Neil Diamond’s music and this show is a lot more than just music,” Klatt said. “I think when people see the light show, the stage sets and hear the music, they will be impressed.”
These shows are the culmination of Klatt’s personal evolution over the past four years. He came to The Villages to work and also help take care of his mother, Alice, who was suffering with cancer.
She had adopted and raised many needy children, including Klatt’s younger brother, Beau, who has Down Syndrome.
“My mother was a very special person,” Klatt said. “Over the years, she took care of so many kids who needed help.”
Klatt works as a business adviser and consultant for hair salons and personal care businesses. After his mother died a few years ago, Klatt was faced with a dilemma. He had to leave The Villages, because his brother was under 10 years old.
Eventually, Beau was placed in a group home in Ocala. Klatt moved to Wildwood where he lives now. Soon after his mother’s death, something he describes as a spiritual gift happened to his voice.
“I never really did a lot of singing,” Klatt said. “But after my mother died, my voice changed. I can’t explain it, but I know my mother had something to do with it. For me, it’s a spiritual thing, and I thank God for it.”
Eventually, Klatt started performing in The Villages. “One night, I sang a Bob Seger song, ‘Against the Wind.’ After the show, a lady in the audience came up to me and said: ‘I know you were singing Seger, but you sounded like Neil Diamond.”
Before long, Klatt was asked to sing Neil Diamond’s songs at The Church on the Square. “Everyone was amazed,” Klatt said. He added that he performed in three Neil Diamond tribute shows at the Church on the Square that were sellouts.
One Diamond song, “(Turn on Your) Heartlight,” has special meaning for Klatt. “Every time I sing that song, I think of my little brother and I become extremely emotional,” he said. “I had to take it out of the show, because whenever I sing it, I wind up crying.”
The song is about parting and leaving home. To see Neil Diamond sing “Heartlight” and read the lyrics, go to:
Klatt loves the upbeat Neil Diamond songs, including “Beautiful Noise,” “Soolaimon,” and the old Monkees’ hit that Diamond wrote, “I’m a Believer.” One of his personal favorites is a more obscure Diamond number called, “Headed to the Future,” which has a techno flavor.
“I like the high-tempo energy on that song,” Klatt said. “I’m going to open the show with it. And I arrive on stage in a spaceship. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Everybody seems have a favorite Neil Diamond song, Klatt said. ‘If I had to sing everybody’s favorite Neil Diamond song, I’d have to do a five-hour show.”
But whatever Klatt sings, he hopes to touch the audience.
“I consider myself a transformational person,” he said. “I think music can transform lives, and I want to make people feel better. That’s what my mother was all about.”
Singing in The Villages has already transformed Klatt’s life.
“Truly,” he said, “I’m living my dream.”