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Broadway's "Mary Poppins" star Megan Osterhaus performs at VOICES REMEMBER - an intimate cabaret fundraiser for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, overlooking New York's Central Park on May 11. (John Florian photos)

VOICES REMEMBER Raises Funds And Awareness
For Alzheimer's And Dementia Victims, Caregivers

May 14, 2015

By John Florian

Caregivers. They're often the unsung heroes in an alarming increase of struggles with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

But not on this past Monday night.

That's when lifestyle icon and restauranteur B. Smith lovingly acknowledged her caregiver, husband Dan Gasby (pictured), at VOICES REMEMBER - a unique and intimate reception and cabaret fundraiser in New York, where voice actors, Broadway and other brilliant performers honored Smith and all caregivers and persons suffering from these diseases.

The event was created and presented by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS™) at the elegant home of Ron Pobuda overlooking New York's Central Park. It was organized by SOVAS CEO Rudy Gaskins and his wife, voice talent / coach Joan Baker, whose father was an Alzheimer's victim.

Co-hosted by Baker (pictured) and New York theater and radio personality Julie James, the venue featured voice actors Dion Graham, Sharon Martin and Kirsten Krohn performing some of their current voice overs, and then introducing vocalists.

The New York City skyline backdropped rousing and touching performances by The Broadway Boys; "Mary Poppins" star Megan Osterhaus; vocalist / "GPS Girl" Karen Jacobsen; "Motown: The Musical" star N'Kenge; and opera star / vocal coach John Davies. (See photos below.)

Yet the evening's dominant theme was Alzheimer's disease and dementia, to which many of the performers and speakers - in private chats or publicly, like WCBS medical correspondent Dr. Max Gomez - acknowledged a personal connection through family or friends.

And the 100 or so attendees heard an emphasis on how to help victims and caregivers to cope with the diseases.

Advice was passionately offered by speakers including Teepa Snow, founder of Positive Approach to Care, and Jackie Pinkowitz, co-leader of the Dementia Action Alliance (please see contact links below).


The Broadway Boys, infusing elements of pop, gospel, funk and jazz into Broadway standards

Karen Jacobsen
, international vocalist, entertainer, songwriter and voice actor ('The GPS Girl')

N'Kenge, dynamic vocalist - from opera to rap - and the original "Mary Wells" in "Motown: The Musical"

Event co-host Julie James, New York theater and radio personality

Dion Graham, voice actor (voice of A&E's 'The First 48') and audiobook narrator

Sharon Martin, voice actor (voice of Oxygen's 'Snapped'), actress and producer

John Davies, international opera star and vocal coach


Gaskins (pictured) explains that the event's proceeds and donations go to SOVAS (a 501c3 public charity), and that in turn, SOVAS supports dementia training programs developed and administered by Positive Approach™ To Care (PAC) and the Dementia Action Alliance.

"Those training programs cover in-home healthcare attendants, elder care facilities and individual caretakers like the spouses and children of dementia sufferers," he notes.

Gaskins adds that in conjunction with PAC, SOVAS is developing a national arts program that will train youth and adults in the art of voice acting and spoken word performance while also certifying them in specific vocal and engagement skills for working with dementia patients.

"These certified voice actors will then be dispatched to elder care facilities to provide entertainment and companionship to dementia patients, but with an acute awareness of special needs of the patient," he says.

Noting the growing incidence of Alzheimer's in the U.S., Dan Gasby remarked that donations now could actually benefit ourselves in the not-too-distant future.

To donate, please click here.


For more about the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences, please visit

For Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Care:

For Jackie Pinkowitz at the Dementia Action Alliance:
John Florian is a voice actor and publisher of VoiceOverXtra, the voice over industry's online news, training and resource center. A former print publishing executive and magazine editorial director, he founded VoiceOverXtra in 2007, which today offers the voice over community industry news, how-to features, online and workshop training, the Voice Over Legal guide, and an ever-growing online resource center of articles and links. In 2013, he produced Voice Over Virtual, a major and pioneering online industry conference featuring more than 50 voice over professional training sessions, exhibit halls and virtual networking.


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Comments (11)
Raquel C Paxton
5/26/2015 at 11:51 AM

Thank you so much for recognizing the patients of these dreaded dieases and the brave and caring Caregivers that care for them. I've been a Caregiver for over thirty years and many of my clients suffered from Alzheimers as well as dementia, a very heartbreaking experience and yet some of the loveliest people I've ever met. Do continue in this service - it is greatly needed to recognize the Caregiver as well as donating to finding a cure for these life altering diseases.

Thank you again,
Raquel C Paxton
Kathryn Walsh
5/18/2015 at 8:41 PM
This is an email I wrote to Joan and Rudy, and they asked me to share with you:

Dearest Joan and Rudy,

My husband Dennis and I were honored to attend your Voices Remember event last week. It was both moving and meaningful on multiple levels. As a Positive Approach trainer, I thank you on behalf of Teepa and all of us in the community doing the hands-on work. The support and awareness this kind of event garners is immeasurable. Meeting B and Dan was inspiring.Thank you Thank you Thank you!
Tom O'Neil
5/15/2015 at 10:23 PM
Voices Remember was the first rate, top drawer evening. Joan Baker was so innovative (not to mention stunning) and her energy was so infectious. Rudy Gaskins is class all the way. I wanted to jump out of my seat and thank her for everything she was supplying... Julie James and the singers were unbelievable with the guest speakers of a lifetime on the topic of Alzheimers, Dementia and Care-taking.

I’m so grateful.It was truly a revelation of insights, knowledge and generosity of spirit. Voice actors, Singers and even spoken word was masterful.

My heart goes out the Barbara Smith and Dan Gasby who were being honored. Dan's speech brought me to tears. I only pray that they do this next year in that classic penthouse above Central Park. Bravo to everything at hand. Bravo
Debbe HIrata
5/14/2015 at 10:12 PM
I love how this stellar event connected so many strong voices to a cause supporting others whose voices have been weakened or even lost because of Alzheimer's.

Research is the only way to discover effective ways of treatment, prevention and hopefully one day, elimination. And research his hugely underfunded in this arena of medicine. That's why funds raised on this special night are so incredibly critical.

Especially exciting is the groundbreaking idea of certifying voice actors and spoken word performers in specific vocal +engagement skills in working with dementia patients.

Rudy Gaskins and Joan Baker ... thank you for creating this opportunity for us to connect one another simply, but powerfully. Care is the cure and the unbelievable loving, selfless energy in that room must have rocked NYC.

Thank you John, for such great coverage of yet another important event in the world of Voice Over!
John Davies
5/14/2015 at 8:18 PM
So wonderful to be a part of such a worthwhile and important event, and to work alongside so many amazing performers.
Monique Coppola
5/14/2015 at 4:37 PM
I was thrilled to be a part of this amazing event. It was wonderful that so many gifted entertainers came together to both honor the beautiful B. Smith and to bring attention to this devastating disease - and to raise funds. Thank you so much to Rudy Gaskins and the lovely Joan Baker as well as to the gracious and generous host, Ron Pobuda. Well done!
5/14/2015 at 4:23 PM
A wonderful event that brought needed attention to issues that concern all of us.
Kirsten Krohn
5/14/2015 at 3:44 PM
Such an honor to be a part of this night. This disease has had a devastating effect on my own family and this cause is important for so many reasons.

Thanks to all for the hard work and dedication to put this together!! Much love....
Karen Jacobsen
5/14/2015 at 2:53 PM
This was an absolutely magical night and it was my honor to be included in this stellar line up.

Congratulations to Push Creative - Rudy Gaskins and Joan Baker are the most exceptional team who do everything with style, including raising funds and awareness for a deeply important purpose.

Ron is so generous to share his beautiful home for an evening to remember.

Particular thanks to VoiceOverXtra for covering the event.
Sean Miller
5/14/2015 at 2:43 PM
I had the pleasure to attend this beautiful event. Not having someone close to me suffer from Alzheimer's, it was very enlightening to learn so much about the disease and how it affects those with it. The space, the entertainment and the food donated by Red Rooster was all amazing. I feel so lucky to have been a part of such an event.

Sean Miller
Dorien Jaye
5/14/2015 at 1:11 PM
Kudo's to all involved in this outstanding and important fundraiser. I lost my mother in '05 and I learned first hand how devastating this disease really is. Thank you for all your efforts and hope there's something I can do to contribute in the future.

Dorien Jaye
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