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One of the best known blues and jazz singers in Western North Carolina, Kat Williams, is battling stage 5 kidney disease that will lead to a kidney transplant. She needs the community's help to defray medical expenses.

A benefit concert is scheduled at the White Horse Black Mountain for Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $18 advance and $20 at the door.  The White Horse is located at 105 Montreat Road.

Don Talley, co-manager of the White Horse Black Mountain, said a specific goal of how much money will be raised by the upcoming benefit has not been set, but he is in hope that $2,000 can be raised.

“Kat has a huge heart and giving spirit,” Talley said.  “She is always quick to help others out and has donated her time and talent to numerous causes in the past.  She has paid it forward so many times in so many ways.  It’s a privilege for White Horse Black Mountain to do something for someone like Kat who we dearly love.”

Williams lives in Asheville and is traveling back and forth to Emory Hospital for evaluations and to determine if she can be listed on the kidney transplant list. She has battled the disease for some time, but now her kidney function has decreased to 13 percent.  Her condition makes it impossible for her to continue to perform.

The “Save Kat Campaign” held a benefit at the Renaissance Hotel in Asheville on August 21 and raised $14,237. Some $64,692 has been raised though the YouCaring site.  A goal of $140,000 was set to help cover medical costs, transportation between Asheville and Emory Hospital in Atlanta, and Duke Hospital, and drugs.  Private donations may be made toward Kat’s care online at youcaring.com.

The list of entertainers for the Kat Wiilliams benefit at the White Horse Black Mountain is impressive with Vibraphonist Jason DeCristofaro.  The music will be anchored by a versatile rhythm section of seasoned players made up of DeCristofaro on Vibes and percussion, Cameron Austin (bass), Daniel Barber (piano), Rick Dilling (drums), and Jonathan “JP” Pearlman on guitar.  A rotating cast of soloists will join them for a couple of numbers each, including vocalists Daniel Barber, Ryan Barber, Paula Hanke, Peggy Ratusz, Rhoda Weaver and cellist Franklin Keel.  Dramatic performances will also be given by members of Asheville’s prestigious NYS3 Studio, and poet/stage manager Barbie Angell will keep the evening on track.

Craig Rumney handles ticket sales and reservations for events at the White Horse Black Mountain, and knows Williams personally.

“I have grown to know Kat personally and had the privilege of watching her evolve from singer to actress,” Rumney said.  “I love her persona-her personality. She is a force.  She has given so much of herself to so many benefits for others that it is time for the community to give back to her.  She also stands up for people’s rights and I admire that in her.  We don’t want to lose this treasure.  The White Horse Black Mountain wants to raise as much money for Kat as possible.”

Williams has received many awards over the years.  She is widely known and admired.  She has received an Emmy nomination, and appeared on the Tonight Show.  She performed up and down the Eastern Coast for years, and has been a well-received yearly performer of the Star Spangled Banner during Asheville’s Fourth of July celebration. She has donated her musical talents to many benefits for others.

Herb Way, photographer shot photos of Kat Williams during her performance at the White Horse Black Mountain during her June 10 concert.  He is donating two of those photos to the Kat Williams benefit to help raise money for the ill singer.

"I first met her (Kat Williams) at the May 1 'Stand Against Racism' event at the White Horse (Black Mountain) where she was one of the presenters and also sang," Way said. "I was very impressed by Kat's generosity, sincerity, and loving spirit.  As a singer of great depth, she radiates the essence of Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin, and other queens of blues and soul and that's what I attempted to capture with my camera.  Kat is near the top of my list of people for whom I want to do something special."

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