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Monday, May 27, 2024

Singer in The Villages ready for triumphant return to performing after suffering traumatic fall

Diana Arlt
Diana Arlt

Nine months after a traumatic, life-shattering fall, Diana Arlt is ready to rise again and sing once more.
“I’m not able to walk – but I’m able to sing,” she said. Arlt is set for a comeback March 22 at 6 p.m. in La Hacienda Recreation Center.
The event is called “The Showcase of Talent ‘70s and ‘80s Dance Party.” It features live music, recorded songs and videos. Proceeds will benefit the Seeds of Hope food charity. For information go to: https://buytickets.at/showcaseoftalent/1162214

It’s Diana Arlt’s first public appearance since the fall last May, and though she will be in a wheelchair, her voice is strong.
“I’m so excited to be back,” Arlt said. “Music has always been such a big part of my life. I’m never nervous when I sing, but this night will be very special.”
During her time in The Villages, Arlt has performed on many local stages and also with The Villages Pops Chorus. She may be best known in recent years for her Karen Carpenter tribute shows, which drew big lunchtime crowds at Savannah Center and other venues.
“Karen Carpenter’s music has always been special to me,” Arlt said. “When I sing her songs, her music just seeps into my bones.”

Last May, on a day Arlt was set to perform the Carpenter tribute, she had a terrible fall at home. She shattered her ankle and leg.

There were other physical issues (not related to the fall) and Arlt spent most of the past nine months in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. She is still receiving care.
“I can stand up with help and move a few steps,” she said. “But the walking part of my life is not going to happen.”
The songs, however, are still in her heart.
Arlt expects to sing the Carpenters’ song “Superstar” at La Hacienda. She will also perform “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and “Evergreen.”
In addition to those numbers, Arlt will team with Mark Steven Schmidt on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” She will also sing with Jan Lavin on a song from the musical “Chess” called “I Know Him So Well.”

Jan Lavin, left, and Diana Arlt at a previous performance.

Joe Arlt, who also had some health issues during the past year, appreciates his wife’s opportunity to sing.
The couple has hosted the  local Showcase of Talent for the past decade and raised over $100,000 to support local music and charities.

Now, she’s ready to sing once more.
“It has been a hard, depressing year, but it’s so exciting for her to sing again,” he said. “Diana has been a big part of the Talent Showcase and it’s great to see her doing something she loves to do.”
The feeling is mutual, Diana said.
“Joe is the heart and soul of everything we do,” she said.

Joe and Diana Arlt

Both have a long history here.
“We were very fortunate to have Diana and Joe in the Villages Pops Chorus when we started it,” said Bill Davis, director of the chorus. “Diana was always an audience favorite.
“Her voice is very clear, strong and lovely and she sure knows how to interpret a song. We are so pleased she is back to performing.”
Local favorite Petrina is also a fan. Petrina happened to entertain at a rehab center where Diana was being treated. Petrina urged her to sing to the other patients there.
“She didn’t want to do it, but I put a little pressure on her,” Petrina said.
“How can anyone say no to Petrina?” Arlt asked. “She has so much energy and is so much fun, I had to sing.”
Everyone seemed inspired.
“I know singing is very healing and takes you out of yourself and your pain,” Petrina said. “Diana found her strength to sing, and it seemed to help her forget the pain for a few minutes. The people loved it and I could see Diana enjoyed it. That’s the beauty of singing,”
Arlt was grateful.
“It was a wonderful gesture by Petrina,” she said. “After that, I tried to sing for others in rehab whenever I could.”
Arlt’s love for music remains the same, but one thing that is different is her appearance.
“I’ve lost 40 pounds and changed my hair color,” she said. “I look different, but I want people to know it’s still me.”

As soon as she sings, they’ll know.

Tony Violanti writes about music and entertainment for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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