Denver Songwriter Sara Giita Plans Benefit for Haitian Orphanage

Denver duo Still, We Rise is rallying funds for a Haitian Orphanage at We Sing for Haiti on February 3 at the Mercury Cafe.
Denver duo Still, We Rise is rallying funds for a Haitian Orphanage at We Sing for Haiti on February 3 at the Mercury Cafe. Courtesy of the artist

Folk-pop singer Sara Giita makes music that deals with trauma. She was assaulted at ages five and fifteen. In addition to therapy, music became a way for her to heal.

“Something that’s really important to me is self-expression,” says Giita. “Having gone through an experience of trauma and being assaulted, playing music became the one way that felt safe to express myself.”

These experiences also led her to use music to help others. She and her bandmate in the duo Still, We Rise, Anastasia Rose, have often shared their music at women’s shelters for free.

“Being an assault survivor has definitely affected my approach to music in that I see how the world is hurting,” says Giita. “But I also want to help in whatever small or large ways that I can, because I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to heal using music and therapy.”

Thus, when Giita's friend Kate Donnely returned from the Amurtel Children’s Home and School in Haiti and told her and Rose about the special aspects of the school, the cause resonated deeply with them. The orphanage and school use music and yoga to help the children.

“Kate told us about how all of the kids come to the orphanage with severe trauma, yet they’re thriving because they have so much music, there’s a loving environment, and they go to school together,” reflects Giita. “I thought about how these kids are in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and they kind of have nothing. Yet here are these people who are helping them have positive outcomes.”

When Giita found out that the orphanage was understaffed, she sprang into action in the only way she knew how: with music. She planned a benefit concert dubbed We Sing for Haiti on February 3 at the Mercury Cafe. The lineup includes Still, We Rise, socially conscious rock-and-roll band the Breedin’ Hearts (formerly the Kamikaze Klones), a project focused on raising planetary awareness called Sympathetic Vibrations, as well as Charlie Provenza and Jordan Brudos-Knockels. Unfortunately, Giita wasn’t able to find any Haitian musicians to participate in the show, though she hopes to connect with some for future concerts. Above all, Giita wanted to collaborate with uplifting, socially conscious musicians for an empowering benefit show.

“I love benefit concerts because there’s a real sense of community,” says Giita. “No one likes getting a phone call or someone knocking on your door asking for money, but you come to a benefit concert, and it’s a sliding scale that’s open to anybody. If you can only give $5 dollars, then you can come. If you can give $100 dollars, then great. But overall, there’s a sense of community and coming together and listening to great music and having a really enjoyable experience, a really uplifting experience – feeling like people come together to do good in the world.”

For Giita, the power of music to enact social change is unparalleled.

“I’m also a music teacher, and I always point out to my students that we can feel sound waves in our bodies. We’ve all had the experience of being next to a car when the radio’s really blasting. You can feel your body shaking from the low bass notes. Yet when it’s not so loud or so low, the music is still affecting our bodies,”

Those vibrations are inherently connected to something that’s perhaps even more fundamental to human existence: communication.

“Stories are the primal way that we communicate with and relate to each other,” says Giita. “As a performer, I’m giving to the audience, but they’re also giving back to me. So playing music is a really great interaction that has a lot of potential for healing.”

We Sing for Haiti, with Still, We Rise, $5-$30 sliding-scale donations, 1 p.m. Saturday, February 3, Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, 303-294-9258.
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Sage Marshall is a freelance writer and editor covering outdoor recreation, environmental issues, Denver's music scene, the arts, and other Colorado stories. You can check out more of his work and connect with him here.
Contact: Sage Marshall