Benefit Planned for Vocal Coach Fighting Cancer

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

A benefit concert will be held on April 18 at 3 p.m. in St. Ignatius Church to help defray the medical expenses of JoJo David, a part-time vocal coach for the BC bOp! student jazz group who is fighting cancer.

David and his wife, Anne Marie, of Newton are musicians who have developed a wide circle of friends through their work in the liturgical arts at Boston College and area Catholic churches. A former jingle singer and singing waiter turned award-winning composer on the Boston a capella circuit, David is music director at the Sunday morning children's Masses at St. Ignatius, in addition to serving as part-time vocal coach in the BC Bands Office.

Last summer, after David's voice uncharacteristically gave out, he went to the doctor and received a diagnosis as unexpected as it was grim: A cancerous tumor had developed in his chest and had paralyzed his vocal chords.

Since then, chemotherapy has failed to arrest his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he is currently undergoing twice-a-day radiation treatments.

Medical expenses have overwhelmed the couple. But an outpouring of support has come from friends, who have cooked dinners, raised money for medical expenses and even formed an e-mail prayer circle.
Part-time Vocal Coach JoJo David works with Meg Felice '02 before he began radiation treatments.

"It's been fortifying - I'm a believer in the power of prayer and the people behind it," David said last week while on campus to coach students the day before he was to begin two weeks of radiation treatments.

"My mom once told me, when you get dealt this type of hardship, just offer it up - let it go and concentrate on what you have," he said. "What we've had has been an outpouring of help from our church community, from the BC community, and from friends across the country. We've met all types of people through our music and they've come together to form a big net to support us."

Headlining the April 18 concert will be Five O'Clock Shadow, an acclaimed a capella group from Boston that has performed with the Boston Pops, Aaron Neville and James Brown, among others. David was an original member of the group in its early years.

The Boston College Liturgical Dance Ensemble, the St. Ignatius Children's Choir and BC bOp! also are scheduled to perform, while audience members will be invited to join in the singing of the a capella song "Tribute," a piece composed by David that won the Best Original Song award in the 1997 National Harmony Sweepstakes.

Tickets to the benefit are $15 for general admission and $5 for students, children and seniors.

The son of medical doctors who emigrated from the Philippines, David said the Catholic faith in which he was raised has been strengthened by his ordeal.

"The Church is alive and exists in the people who love me," he said. "My friends are my saints."

Since David's cancer was diagnosed, parishioners who attend the Sunday morning Family Mass at St. Ignatius have brought dinner to his home twice a week. Friends have taken to stopping by once a week with groceries, and an e-mail prayer circulates every Monday among a national network of perhaps 150 friends. Proceeds from last weekend's BC bOp! concert will be sent to a benefit fund for David established at St. Ignatius.

"JoJo has been so absolutely selfless in his work with our students," said BC Band Director Sebastian Bonaiuto. "When someone who has given so much to others is in need, we ought to do everything we can to support him."

Donations to the JoJo David Fund may be sent to St. Ignatius Church, 28 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA, 02467. Checks should be made payable to St. Ignatius Church, with a notation in the corner citing the JoJo David Fund.

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