Written by Carisa Giardino
Although Gina Naomi Baez has been singing since she was 6, when she repeatedly sang along with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” she didn’t start singing in public until a cancer diagnosis spurred to the stage two years ago.
The Hewlett resident, who majored in musical theater at Pace University, began writing her own songs in eighth grade. When she was diagnosed with cancer it became a way to express herself. At first, Baez thought the songs were too personal to share, except one which she performed on piano for her English class project.
"I think the cancer diagnosis definitely changed my life in many ways. It was a very hard time for me, physically and emotionally, and yet I still attended school as much as I could,” she said. "Performing (especially singing) was the one thing that made me happy during such a dark time. I also learned that you only live once so you have to live life to the fullest, follow your dreams and do what makes you happy."
For Baez, writing songs, singing and performing for the drama club is what kept her going.
"When I attended school, I found out who my true friends were,” she said. “Some people were supportive and other people I thought were my friends completely avoided and ignored me. I was also bullied for not having hair and having scars from surgeries."
Now Baez, who became a regular this summer at Friday night promenades on Seventh Street in Garden City, is ready to premiere a new music video later this month at the AMC Loews Raceway Theater.
Baez weaves positive messages through her songs, many of which are about anti-bullying and not apologizing for who you are. Her upcoming music video premiere is for the song "Downtown," which is about a girl who has no one to go out with and decides to take her dog out on the town in New York City. Baez sang that song at many promenades with Tinkerbelle in her arms. The 4-pound Papitese (papillion/maltesse mix) is featured in the video.
The Sept. 27 video premiere will help kick off Dog Adoption Month in October.
"The video ultimately shows the special bond a person and a dog can share," Baez said. "It is also really cute and funny."
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Loews Raceway Theater, located at 1025 Corporate Drive in Westbury. Free tickets to the event are available here. Special goodies, sweets and raffles will be offered. If interested in sponsoring the event, visit Gina's Go Fund Me Page here.
Tickets to the premiere are also available by emailing GinaNaomiBaezFans@gmail.com with your name and the number of tickets you need. Tickets must be reserved in advance since space is limited.