LEWISTON — A lot has changed for Tatiana Curtis between her appearances on the Franco-American Heritage Center stage.
A year ago, Curtis, 18, took the stage for the Tri-County Mental Health Services “Inspired Voices” concert to sing about her grief, anxiety and loss.
“I did a song dedicated to my best friend who committed suicide,” she said. “He was actually my boyfriend. That song was kind of the grief of last year.”
It took a lot to get on stage last year, she said.
“People say that when you have anxiety and depression, and when you have problems that can’t be solved with your normal vein of thinking, people say you’re not capable of overcoming it,” she said. “But this is me overcoming my anxiety, being in front of a hundred people I don’t know.”
Maybe it was gathering up her courage last year to sing in front of an auditorium filled with strange faces that helped make the difference. Maybe her performance was just an example of her own growth.
No matter. She was back Saturday, preparing to perform for fiance Kevin Ripley. They met last October.
“This song is more about what’s transpired in the past several months,” she said.
Saturday, she played her guitar and sang in honor of hope, new chances and opportunities, performing “Two is Better Than One” by Boys Like Girls.
“This is for him,” she said. “Everything went really fast. We met, and then, bam!”
Curtis was one of the 21 acts performing at the agency’s sixth annual concert and fundraiser. Acts included Native American drumming, poetry, dramatic readings, dance and music.
Organizers hoped to raise at least $20,000 with Saturday’s show, but they also hoped to make a point. Rainy Veilleux, one of the agency’s clients, read a poem about the abuse she endured for years. Producer Tina Pelletier-Clark said she had volunteers standing by in case Veilleux’s poem — or any others — affected the audience.
“You never know how things will affect people,” Pelletier-Clark said. “A lot of these issues have not been spoken of publicly for a lot of years. I have people just watching the audience.”
It wasn’t all serious. Co-host and master of ceremonies Andrew Harris brought one client, 62-year-old Lynn Bedell, on stage to show off her new wheelchair. Harris said Bedell, who has cerebral palsy, first came to his attention two years ago, when she continually heckled him from the audience.
“So much so, she got into performing and came back last year and contributed more on stage,” he said. “Tonight, she’ll be back up on stage and we’ll have a quick conversation. So, Lynn’s my sidekick for a moment — or I’m her sidekick.”