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The Villages
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

All-star concert lineup lifts up beloved entertainer battling cancer

Jamie Klatt Savage is living proof of the healing power of music.

“I’m not feeling well today, it’s been a rough week,” said Savage — who has Stage 4 colon cancer. He spoke in a small dressing area on Sunday afternoon, a few minutes before a fundraising concert in the New Covenant Methodist Church.

“I can’t explain what music does for me,” he added. “Whenever I feel bad, and I get on stage in front of a microphone and the music starts, I just feel better.  The music lifts me up.”

Jamie Klatt Savage sings The Story of My Life on Sunday at New Covenant United Methodist Church
Jamie Klatt Savage sings “The Story of My Life” on Sunday at New Covenant United Methodist Church.

The church was crowded with friends, fans, entertainers and Villagers who have known Savage — on and off stage.

He often performed Neil Diamond tributes, and is also admired for his skill as a hair stylist.  “This is such a special day for me,” Savage said. “To have so many talented people perform to help me is amazing. And when I saw all those people in those seats, it just makes me feel blessed. I know God has a plan for me.”

And then, the musical transformation took place. For the moment, Jamie Klatt Savage, could forget about chemo, hospital rooms, painful days and nauseous, sleepless nights.

As he walked out on stage, he looked the role of entertainer: wearing a ruby-sequined vest with a chalk white shirt; a mock white cape and black pants. He took slow steps and walked with a black cane. But, like his idol, Neil Diamond, Jamie was ready to touch the hearts and lift the spirits of others.

He sat down on a small, gray chair and started to sing one of his favorite Diamond songs—“The Story of My Life.” One stanza goes like this: “You’re the story of my life/And every word is true/Each chapter sings your name/Each page begins with you.”
Savage turned Diamond’s song into his own message of love and hope for those in the audience and on stage.

“I’m absolutely speechless,” he said after the song ended to a rousing ovation. “I want to thank all of you who are here today.  I feel so blessed that so many people came here to help me.”

A glittering array of local talent added to the powerful concert. Suzie Casta is a cancer survivor and put some punch into “Stand By Me.” At one point during the song, Casta came off stage and danced with Savage near the front row.

Suzie Casta is a close friend of Jamie and sang Stand By Me
Suzie Casta is a close friend of Jamie and sang “Stand By Me.”

“Jamie is such a positive, caring person,” Casta said before the show. “When I went through my cancer a few years ago, he helped me so much. I just want to help him.”

Dawn DiNome brought an elegant look and vocals to the fundraiser
Dawn DiNome brought an elegant look and vocals to the fundraiser.

Dawn DiNome shares that sentiment.

“Jamie is so special,” she said after a spirited, moving version of “You Raise Me Up.”

“Jamie is a funny, kind, good guy. It’s an honor for me to be here for him today.”
Donna J Fraley, “Donna J the Lady in Black,” organized the benefit.

“Jamie helped me get started and I wouldn’t be performing if it wasn’t for him,” she said.

“Jamie has a beautiful soul and spirit.”

She was inspired on stage, performing with a choir and Lady in Black Ensemble on “This Is Me,” and “Come Alive.”

Donna Moore
Donna Moore made like Cher and went into the audience on “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

Donna Moore, also a cancer survivor, turned up the heat, sashaying around the stage and audience while wearing a long, mane of black hair, just like Cher.

Moore was on fire with a sassy, blistering version of “If I Could Turn Back Time,” that had the church rocking.  

Billie Thatcher was also in a high-energy groove. She roared defiantly on “I Am What I Am,” and then brought the house down with “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

Jan Lavin and Jamie sang You Dont Bring Me Flowers
Jan Lavin and Jamie sang, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”

Jan Lavin created another emotional moment when she and Savage united on stage to sing another Diamond standard, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”

“Jamie,” she said after hugging Savage after the song, “you are here in all of our hearts. Just like a rose in spring, you will bloom again.”

Sean Pollock supplied the live, piano accompaniment for many songs. He also put emotion into the song, “Being Alive.”

Billie Thatcher sings Dont Rain on My Parade
Billie Thatcher sings, “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

Carol Wiltman, Billie Thatcher and Fraley joined forces for a raucous sing-a-long on “Sweet Caroline.” Jamie, along with most of the audience  waved hands and sang in loud voices.

There were more Neil Diamond classics and more stirring performances as Villagers paid tribute to a man who touched their lives.

“It’s such a great day, with all these people who came out for me,” Savage said. “I know that with a positive attitude and prayers, I can make it.”  

There is a go fund me page for Jamie at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-jamie-klatt-savage

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