Levy Barnes’ Port Arthur concert brings in funds for several charitable causes
Published 12:40 am Saturday, July 1, 2023
The Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center was packed Thursday night for the sold-out Dr. Levy’s Back in Concert Fundraiser.
But the support from the event will reach far outside the walls of the venue.
“It was amazing,” Barnes said. “There were no seats left. I actually oversold. Thank God my wife helped me put everything back together.”
And by everything, Barnes meant quite literally almost everything.
“(Sheri) did all of the decorations, organization, was the floor manager and did all the cooking, as well,” he said. “She worked very hard. I made sure the sound and everything was in place, and she put everything else together.”
Barnes said it was his first time to host an event at the Civic Center, but he’s glad he chose the venue, as organizers were very accommodating to all his requests.
During the show, Barnes sang “I Cry,” which reached Billboard’s Top 100.
Another moment of note, he said, was Starr Lee Alvarez’s performance of “Part of Your World” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
“We talk about diversity a lot,” Barnes said. “Being that Disney did the reenactment of The Little Mermaid and used an African American to play (Ariel), we had Starr sing ‘Part of Your World’ and she did an amazing job.”
But the performance of the night might have come from one of the youngest singers.
Barnes said his 9-year-old son joined him on stage.
“We got more applause out of him than anyone,” he said of Levy Barnes III, who sang “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5. “But that’s OK; that’s my baby.”
The performance was rooted in more than just practice.
Both of Barnes’ sons, now 8 and 9, were diagnosed with autism as children. The oldest didn’t speak until he was 3.
“At the time I had my own business working from home, so I decided to pull back for a few months and focus on the kids,” he said. “I knew he could talk. I knew it was something inside of him.”
One day Barnes told his son if he wanted his drink, he’d have to speak.
Shortly after, the young boy said his first word — cup.
One week later, it was “want cup.”
And soon after came “I love you.”
Now, Barnes said, he not only speaks and sings well, but he’s quick to correct Dad if he’s not on pitch.
The youngest also did not speak for a while, but taught himself to read at 2 years old.
“One day he was in the room saying ‘red, blue, yellow,’” Barnes said. “I thought he was looking at colors. I went to him and he had a page with words on it. He couldn’t communicate, but he could read.”
Proceeds from the event will go to several causes, including Pathway to Life, Christmas with Dr. Levy and an outreach program to help women who have lost a spouse.
“A lot of widows, when their husbands die, they are stuck with less money coming in,” Barnes said. “And after the funeral, people forget those things.”
In addition, the concert raised the funds necessary to help send one Port Arthur senior to college. Barnes learned of Zachary Perez after the teenager had an emergency appendectomy. But, Barnes said, even through the recovery he stayed focused on his grades and graduated with all As.
With help from Barnes, Perez will be interning with an architectural engineering firm this summer before attending Texas A&M for architectural engineering.
“I met him twice after I heard his story,” Barnes said. “His mother and father are very hard workers. He got scholarships but didn’t have enough money for food, books, room and board. His story touched my spirit and I wanted to give him a going away present.”
Joe Tant of the Southeast Texas Business Referral Group served as a sponsor and event emcee.
“He was dressed like me. We didn’t even realize it,” Barnes said with a laugh. “We wore almost the same tuxedo.”
Tant said he was honored to emcee the event.
“The work that Dr. Levy does in the community is amazing,” he said. “His passion to help is what has fueled my passion to help him.”
Additional sponsors included Gulf Coast Health Center, First Choice Roofing and Remodeling Co, Sounds of Joy, Victorious Youth, Linda’s Lighthouse, Hobson Bradley Law firm, AMF and Engineering Custom Fabrication, MLK Support Group, LeZac Homes Company, Mortgage Dynamics, Q. Hair Regrowth Spray and Black Business Professionals of Southeast Texas.