The backroom of Cranky Pat’s in Neenah was filled wall-to-wall with people coming together for the second Charleyville Fundraiser and the Charlotte Nooe Foundation for Musicians and Writers on the evening of Feb. 28.
Charlotte Nooe was a student at UW Oshkosh before she suddenly died on Dec. 11, 2011. In honor of her life and the things she loved, her father Dave Nooe and his wife Jenny Nooe, established the Charlotte Nooe Foundation, a charitable foundation for musicians and writers.
The event, held on her birthday, was a multifaceted celebration of Charlotte’s life and her passions: poetry and music. It kicked off with a performance from Kurt Stein’s School of Rock. The talented assemblage of kids had the crowd hooting and hollering with a soulful rendition of “Oh Darling,” while Stein conducted from the crowd with zeal.
“People doing stuff like this,” Dave Nooe said, gesturing toward the stage. “That’s the guy worth talking to. What he’s doing with these kids is what it’s all about.”
After the performance, Stein was surprised with a $1,000 check for his dedication to fostering the musical talents of kids in the area. Kurt Stein’s School of Rock is part of the Sounds Alive Music and Art Education Center in Neenah, where creative collaboration posits them so “they don’t play music, they make music,” according to its Facebook page.
Following another musical performance, the honorable mention candidate for the Charlotte Nooe Memorial Scholarship, Amy Knoll, read two selections from her submissions. The scholarship is set up through the UW Oshkosh creative writing department, through which Charlotte majored in English and refined her creative talents.
“Charlotte loved poetry, and we are blessed to be able to encourage young and talented writers in her memory,” Jenny Nooe said as she introduced the winner of the scholarship.
Alex Seidl read three of her prize-winning poems before she was awarded an oversized check in the amount of $1,000.
“I feel honored, honestly,” Seidl said. “The most overwhelming part about all of this is that I feel validated as a writer. It’s hard to convince yourself you might actually be good at the thing you love the most. I think Charlotte would be really happy for me.”
Charlotte was an avid writer and lead singer and guitarist in a local band called Charley and the Cynics. The talented group was esteemed in the community and was gaining recognition in the region: Charlotte’s accessible lyrics and striking, deep-seated voice are accredited for its promise.
“She was a bright horizon on an otherwise dark musical landscape,” Chris Johnson, Charlotte’s long-term boyfriend and friend before she passed, said. “These days musicians come and go but already she has done what most can’t…engrain themselves into people’s everyday lives.”
The foundation continues to spread Charlotte’s spirit and passions through its charitable acts and scholarships. The foundation, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., assists underprivileged children and young adults in gaining access to music and instruments.
The fundraising event also boasted a silent auction. Donations included handmade jewelry, bar glasses, a Guitar Hero guitar and authentic Gibson guitars, which included a John Lennon-autographed electric guitar worth more than $500, as well as an autographed Les Paul acoustic worth the same.
The evening proved to be a success, bringing in nearly 200 guests and earning more than $3,000. More importantly, it was testament to the enriching impact Charlotte’s life has had on this community.
“The most rewarding thing for me has been the ability to have a living memorial for my daughter, Charlotte,” Dave Nooe said. “With every instrument we give away, lesson we teach, event we put on, scholarship we give away I hear Charlotte saying, ‘Good job dad. Keep it up.’ And we will.”