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Happy campers: Sunday concert will benefit Aspen group

 A sign marks the entrance to the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Courtesy of the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
A sign marks the entrance to the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will host a benefit concert Sunday featuring singer Laura Angelini. Proceeds from the event will help to support the organization’s programs.

But it might not have happened if Angelini didn’t get lost in Old Snowmass a half-decade ago.

The singer and philanthropist said she was looking for John Denver’s Windstar property when she stumbled upon the camp, located in Old Snowmass.

“I thought to myself, let me go knock on their door,” she said. “And I did, and they opened the door and greeted me it was so amazing.”

It was a “totally synchronistic” encounter, she said.

Denver, who died in 1997 at the age of 53, was a longtime benefactor of the camp and used to sing at benefit concerts for the nonprofit, back when live music fundraisers for the camp were a summer-defining shindig that drew thousands.

Angelini learned about his connection as people showed her around the camp and told her about the history of the organization.

“My wheels started to turn and I thought … I would really like to get back here and do some benefit concerts,” she said. “And here we are.”

Angelini plans to sing some of Denver’s songs at the concert, which she said will also feature some members of the Aspen Noise Choir.

She plans to have some of the younger members join in for Denver’s song “I Want to Live,” which she recorded for a new CD. The performance comes just a few days before the annual John Denver Celebration in Aspen, which runs Wednesday through Oct. 12.

Karen Immerso, a board member for the camp, said in an interview in September that she sees the concert revival as a way to combine the history of the camp with its future.

“It’s this really lovely sort of revitalization of John Denver’s spirit through her music and her knowing him, and the camp having benefited for years,” Immerso said.

For Angelini — who has her own nonprofit, called Share That Love Foundation — Sunday's concert is a full-circle moment.

“I like to plant a lot of seeds with all the work that I do between my music and philanthropic work, and it's wonderful to see them grow,” Angelini said. “And this is a very big part of starting a new seed and planting it.”

She aspires to make the concert a yearly event featuring more local artists.

Angelini says she was inspired to offer the concert after learning about the volunteer-run camp and its programs for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“They are doing this all on their own, and so it really inspired me to want to share that love with what I do with my music and mission and give back to them, because I really admire their work,” she said. “They're helping everyone, and so I want to help them."

Immerso said the concert is part of a broader effort to help fill the camp coffers and connect with people in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The camp is still on a financial comeback; money problems were part of the reason the camp temporarily closed in 2018.

The camp started offering programs again in 2021 and board members have made a concentrated effort to rebuild community relationships while getting the nonprofit back on solid ground.

Immerso said she sees the concert as a chance to connect with the community while raising funds for the camp.

“It’s an outreach to the community and it’s a fundraising opportunity,” Immerso said. “This was more of a gentle and creative way to put us out there again as a nonprofit.”

The concert takes place at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is free, and donations are encouraged.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.