As the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation's "Help Is On the Way For the Holidays" gala unveils its 11th edition Monday in The City, jazz performer Tim Hockenberry sees it as powerful opportunity to personally take action – by moving out of his comfort zone.
“I am a musician and in my heart of hearts, the only thing I really wanted to do all day long is play music," Hockenberry says. "I don't always have a natural default that goes into helping others. In order to do music, sometimes, you have to be really selfish, so the only way I can really give back is to show up and give away my talent."
The heralded Bay Area performer, who went from being a symphonic orchestral trombone wonder to earning jazz singer status, turned heads earlier this year as a semi-finalist on TV's "America's Got Talent."
He shares the stage Monday with an eclectic posse that includes castmembers of "The Book of Mormon" and Disney's "The Lion King."
Other popular Bay Area titans also will be on hand: Bruce Vilanch, Connie Champagne, Spencer Day, Paula West, Jason Brock and Mary Wilson.
The all-star power is a testament to the work that The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation has been doing for years.
Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet, who both lost their only sons to AIDS, launched the nonprofit not only to "alleviate the suffering of many of the other sons and daughters living with HIV and AIDS," but to also raise the level of awareness about HIV/AIDS through entertainment events.
The first venture, dubbed "Help is on the Way: San Francisco Cares," unfolded in 1995 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. Since then, the foundation has become one of the area's top sources of funding for many AIDS service providers.
None of this is lost on Hockenberry, who feels getting the word out about HIV/AIDS is vital.
"Given the average intelligence of Americans, I don't think you can get enough awareness on this subject," he says. "I think culturally, it's important to educate the people, not so much those in the trenches but the fringe masses that don't quite understand. "If you want to make a cultural change, you can't stay inside Ground Zero. You have to somehow reach out to everybody," he adds. "I don't necessarily believe in good and evil, but I have to say that evil doesn't nearly have the power or the legs that good does."
IF YOU GO
Help is on the Way for the Holidays XI
Where: Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday; post-performance party at 9:45 p.m.
Tickets: $40 to $100
Contact: (415) 273-1620, www.helpisontheway.org.