When Lynda Shaw states that her daughter Kara didn’t stand a chance, she means it in a musical way.
Kara Shaw was born at 23 weeks – so early she weighed one pound, four ounces. While she struggled to survive, her weight dropped to 13 ounces, and though doctors managed to keep the now-18-year-old alive, the oxygen she received during that procedure left her blind.
That is something one would never guess when listening to her play the piano. She not only has three CDs, but she also plays harp and flute, and the day of the interview she was waiting for the arrival of a lap steel guitar from Guelph. She is studying voice and piano at W. Ross MacDonald school in Brantford, a school for the blind.
What her mother meant by her not standing a chance was her becoming a musician.
“She’s the youngest,” said Lynda Shaw of Kara’s family. “She didn’t have a chance. She just came into a musical family.”
Her father, David, is a tenor and used to be a church organist. Lynda herself is currently a church organist. One sibling teaches piano, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Kara’s brother Adam will be at the concert performing. Kara’s sister Lindsay is studying for a music degree and teaches piano and clarinet.
With that kind of atmosphere around the house, Kara said performing is natural to her. She has been playing piano “ever since I was two-and-a-half. The piano was my first instrument.”
She added that the family still occasionally performs at home together. There is a studio in a brightly lit front room with lots of space for instruments, including a gorgeous piano.
Kara Shaw decided to perform a benefit show in order to raise funds for Camp Freedom, near Orangeville. The camp is set up to teach life skills to handicapped children, particularly those with visual impairments, but Kara noted that there are also children there in wheelchairs.
She has attended, and said it taught her how to handle such things as shopping and arranging for transportation.
She attends school in Brantford during the week, and comes home on weekends, and is learning to be independent. Her dad, Dave, said it is likely that Kara will make music her career, since she has such a head start in it.
She has a Braille laptop computer for her school work, and her fingers fly over it nearly as quickly as they do on the piano keys. The machine also prints in Braille for her to read what she has produced.
Lynda Shaw said the family started “looking for people to help Kara” when she got the idea for a benefit show, but it did not take much searching. When her friends heard about her plan, so many volunteered that there will now be two shows at Fergus Grand Theatre on April 5. Kara will perform at the first show, at 3pm.
The first show is an afternoon performance titled Kara Shaw with Family and Friends In Concert. It is packed with incredible talent performing for a great cause. The show will feature Kara, Lindsay, and Adam. The special guest performer from the Kitchener-Waterloo area is Jeff Marsh.
The second fundraiser show on April 5 is at 7pm will feature a host of talented singer and songwriters from the area including Richard Burnett, Cindy Clasper, Adrian Jones, Kim Regimbal, New Roots, Delainey Barth, Will Devonshire, and Michael. As with the afternoon show, all proceeds will go to support Camp Freedom.
Seating is non-reserved. Tickets may be purchased from the Grand Theatre box office, Shaw Music on St. Andrew Street in Fergus, or at the Bargain Mart in Arthur.
Lynda said Kara’s afternoon show will likely feature music from the 1950s and 1960s because Kara “loves that stuff.”