Next in our series on finalists in Morristown Onstage 2019:
By Marion Filler
Orion’s Belt is a short, straight row of three stars at midpoint in the constellation Orion.
It is also the name chosen by Anna Grace Yurek and sisters Julia and Charlotte Cama, who will sing Rise Up by Andra Day at Morristown Onstage on Feb. 27, 2019.
“We all liked to think that we were rising stars,” says Julia Cama. “The name was kind of spontaneous, it came up because Orion’s Belt is also known as Three Kings or Three Queens.”
These three 7th graders at the Morris Plains Borough School have known each other since kindergarten. Orion’s Belt almost became a family trio.
Julia and Charlotte Cama are two-thirds of a triplet team that includes a brother, Daniel.
“Daniel has an amazing voice, but he doesn’t like to showcase it,” says Julia. So Anna Grace Yurek became the third sister.
“Anna Grace has not been friends with just one of us, she’s been close to both of us,” says Charlotte Cama. “We love that, because we can all hang out together and can all share that special bond together.”
More than 50 acts auditioned for this 12th edition of the show, which is spearheaded by the Morris Educational Foundation
A fundraiser for the Morris School District, Morristown Onstage aims to top last year’s record of $143,000 raised for local school programs. Some 1,300 people are anticipated to pack Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night.
The competition, which includes cash prizes, is open to amateur performers who live, work or study in Morristown, Morris Township or Morris Plains, and to graduates of Morristown High School.
Orion’s Belt is proudly self-reliant.
“We arranged everything on our own,” says Yurek. “We meet after school to practice and see what comes together, try ideas and see what works.”
They struggled a bit searching for a song with three-part harmonies to showcase their voices. Rise Up goes deeper than that, however.
“When Anna Grace suggested it, we all agreed and loved it, and now it’s our favorite song,” Charlotte Cama says. “There is also a meaningful story behind it because of her mom.”
Three years ago, Laura Bellias Yurek was debilitated by a massive brain hemorrhage.
“I’m unable to walk or use my right arm, but I’m working on it daily!” the mother says.
She credits Atlantic Health and Morristown Medical Center with saving not only her life, but also that of Anna Grace when she was born 13 years ago.
Starved of oxygen, the baby was delivered by emergency C-section, intubated and sedated for three days before anyone knew if she would survive.
Anna Grace made a remarkable recovery, with a year of follow-up therapy that her mother says transformed her “from a voiceless, intubated newborn needing help to breathe to having the powerful lungs of a singer.”
Orion’s Belt aims to deliver a declaration of love and hope with Rise Up.
“We hold hands at the end of the song for the last couple of times as we repeat ‘we will rise up.’ It’s a sign of power and friendship and sparks emotion. It kind of brings it all together,” says Julia Cama.
In addition to the triplets, the Camas have an older son, Joseph, attending Morristown High School. Music has been important to them all, says their mother, Laurie Cama. On long car rides, each may sing parts from songs in the musical Newsies.
“You can imagine, with four kids, how music can be a wonderful outlet,” the mom says.
Fifteen top amateur acts from Greater Morristown will compete for cash and glory in the 12th annual Morristown Onstage, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Tickets: $29-$79. Proceeds benefit the Morris Educational Foundation. Call 973-539-8008.