Songs raise spirits, funds for singer with cancer in Sequim

SEQUIM — More than one member of the audience wiped away a tear as Denise Graham sang.

And though the aria she chose — from Puccini’s opera “Suor Angelica” — is an exquisite piece, it wasn’t necessarily the thing that caused people to weep during Sunday afternoon’s Peninsula Singers concert at the Trinity United Methodist Church.

Graham, 43, is undergoing treatment for metastatic cancer, and her fellow Peninsula Singers gathered Sunday for a performance to raise money to help with her living expenses.

Together, the singers unfurled soulful renditions of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” — and then maestro Dewey Ehling brought Graham onto the stage.

A soprano, she’s been studying with voice teacher Linda Grubb, Ehling said.

Standing ovation

Graham’s voice poured out strong and sweet, and when she finished, the room rose in a standing ovation.

After a few more songs — “One Hand, One Heart” from “West Side Story,” “All I Ask of You” from “Phantom of the Opera” — a special guest stepped up for another solo.

Carol Swarbrick Dries, a Dungeness resident who has performed in productions from Broadway to Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, told the crowd that when Ehling let her know about the Graham benefit, she wanted to participate — and had a particular song in mind. “Fortunately, he didn’t make me beg,” Dries said.

Then, with no need of a microphone, she belted out Irving Berlin’s “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy,” sparking another standing ovation. Dries also introduced a couple who were her houseguests last week: Singer John Davidson and his wife, Rhonda, who are about to go out on an international concert tour. The couple stood up as the audience applauded.

Sunday’s benefit raised well over $5,000 from ticket sales and donations — exceeding the group’s hopes, said Peninsula Singers President Valerie Lape.

Contributions can still be made to the Denise Graham Fund at any First Federal branch, or mailed to DGF, c/o Peninsula Singers, 325 E. Washington St., No. 135, Sequim, WA 98382.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]

More in Life

The annual Concerts in the Barn series in Quilcene runs July 9 through Sept. 4. (Concerts in the Barn)
Concert series returns to iconic Quilcene barn

Reservations taken now for free seats

Cribbage tournament scheduled

The Fourth of July Cribbage Tournament is set for 6… Continue reading

Emily Volz of NatureBridge, left, explains how erosion changes the landscape as members of the Jacobs family of Port Angeles, from left, Monica, Emerson, 11, and Jack, 9, create a miniature flood plain during the Forever StreamFest environmental fair at Peninsula College in Port Angeles. The Saturday event, hosted by the Port Angeles Garden Club, featured a variety of displays and educational activities, along with music and guest speakers, geared toward protection of the air, water, forests, land and wildlife. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Learning about erosion at Forever StreamFest

Emily Volz of NatureBridge, right, explains how erosion changes the landscape as… Continue reading

Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County to hold volunteer orientation sessions

Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County will conduct both an… Continue reading

Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau seeks applications for tourism project grants

Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau is seeking applications for qualified… Continue reading

Maya Garrison
Stevens Middle School students awarded Pollanz Promise scholarships

The 2022 Pollanz Promise scholarships have been awarded to… Continue reading

Peninsula residents named to University of Washington dean’s list

Dozens of Olympic Peninsula residents have been named to the… Continue reading

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Volunteer Eric Lalonde, 15, of Port Angeles carries a roll of sod during a community work day on Friday at the pump track being built at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles. The track, designed primarily for bicycles and other wheeled play vehicles, is being constructed by the Port Angeles Parks & Recreation Department in conjunction the Lincoln Park BMX Association with funding from a $350,000 grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office, $100,000 in lodging tax grants from the city and Clallam County, business sponsorships, individual and community donations and a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Organizers have scheduled a grand opening for the facility for 5:30 p.m. on July 6.
Work on pump track proceeds

Volunteer Eric Lalonde, 15, of Port Angeles carries a roll of sod… Continue reading

Most Read