Dozens of volunteer musicians and an audience of nearly 300 filled The Kentucky Theatre on Tuesday to help a young musician whose mother was killed June 9.
The Almira Fawn Benefit Concert was organized by Michael Johnathon, creator of Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour.
Almira Fawn Southworth, who will turn 13 Sunday, has a special history with Woodsongs. She was the youngest performer ever featured on the nationally syndicated program, and it was where she got to meet her hero, blues artist JJ Grey, who played the venue in February 2009.
Almira is seen with her guitar, which was signed by Grey, on dozens of Internet videos.
Almira, well-known in Lexington for playing local venues, was days away from moving to Nashville to begin working on a new record when her mother, Umi Southworth, 44, was found badly beaten behind her Meadowthorpe Avenue home. Southworth died the next day.
No suspects have been named in the slaying, and no arrests have been made.
Almira is now staying out of state. Though she couldn't attend the benefit, friends and fellow musicians had many kind words for her.
"I hope that you see not only how much people respect you as a young person, but how much they love you ... and how much they admire you as a musician," said Johnathon, as if he were speaking to Almira. "Tonight is for you."
Grammy Award-winning bluegrass artist J.D. Crowe said he has never met Almira but was moved when he heard her play and when he heard of her mother's death.
"I think you've got enough talent to make it," Crowe said as if speaking to Almira. "All you need to do is be honest and true to yourself."
Others who performed included country rock artist J.P. Pennington, Almira's guitar teacher, David McLean, and Kentucky cellist Ben Sollee.
Tickets cost $20 each, and $4,200 was raised. The money went to the Umi Southworth Memorial Fund, which was set up by the Meadowthorpe Neighborhood Association to help pay for Almira's education. A cigar box guitar signed by all the musicians will be sold on eBay.
A second benefit concert for Almira will be held at Buster's Billiards and Backroom on Aug. 8. Donations can be made to the memorial fund at any Central Bank location.