Skip to content

Celebrity Care Fest returns with more performers, new dinner

New York and Pittsburgh are cities both known for their bridges.

So it may be appropriate that after Veronica Stigeler-Cowher celebrates the release of her new album, “Bridges Vol. 3,” in Brooklyn on June 9, the 2022 Celebrity Care Fest on July 23 in Pine will be her next performance.

Stigeler-Cowher, who has been married to former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher since 2014, is scheduled to perform with The Temptations, Lou Gramm and The Jacksons at the charity event held by HM3 Partners Independence Fund.

Stigeler-Cowher, whose stage name is “Queen V,” and Cowher have been guests at Care Fest in the past. This will be her first time performing there — making her the first female artist in the event’s history — and her first performance in the Pittsburgh area since 2017.

“I’m honored to be part of the lineup,” she said. “The themes of unity and equality feel so timely. It’s a superstar lineup. It’s going to be a great time for a great cause.”

This year marks the sixth Celebrity Care Fest that HM3 has hosted and produced since 2015. It has not been held since 2019 because of the covid pandemic.

Patrick Hampson, founder and managing partner of HM3 Partners, a private equity investment and advisory firm, established the non-profit Independence Fund in 2014. He was previously the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of MED3000, a healthcare management and technology service provider .

“The unity and equality theme represents not only our organization’s heartfelt advocacy but also acknowledges the support of many people, charities, foundations and community organizations who each in their own way strive to help others daily,” Hampson said. “Unity and equality represent the epitome of humanity and we are proud to amplify that.”

The fund raises money that helps other charities falling under the umbrella of country, community and caring, said board member Michael Young, managing partner of HM3 Media, whose 36-year radio broadcasting career included 33 years with CBS Radio.

The fund has donated or raised more than $2.5 million for many charitable organizations. The beneficiaries of this year’s Care Fest have not been finalized, Young said.

“We started very humbly with our first Care Fest. We had three local bands and probably a few hundred people,” Young said. “It’s grown to where now we have over a couple thousand people attending.”

Past performers have included Kool & the Gang; Earth, Wind & Fire; Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Grand Funk Railroad, KC and The Sunshine Band, and Peter Frampton.

Young said concert promoter Rich Engler, an East Deer native the board’s members call a friend, takes the lead in bringing in the bands.

“Quite frankly, what we found is the bands really enjoy playing an environment like this,” Young said. “It’s different from a concert. We provide them with a lot of hospitality when they eat. It’s a good experience for us as well. We’ve built up a reputation as a nice place to play. The credit goes to Rich Engler.”

In addition to Care Fest growing from two acts to four, it’s becoming a weekend event, including a “Unity Dinner” on July 22, the Friday night before the concert.

At the dinner, actress Jane Seymour, co-founder of the Open Hearts Foundation, and international civil rights leader Xernona Clayton will be recognized for their philanthropic efforts in promoting unity and equality.

The dinner and concert are held at Hampson’s home, which Young said includes between 10 and 11 acres that have been developed for the event.

“We get a lot of good reviews from the people who attended,” Young said. “You get to be up close to these performers. We invite a number of celebrities from sports, news and entertainment that are on-hand to enjoy the event so people get to mingle with them in that type of setting.”

Stigeler-Cowher said she and her husband were celebrity guests at the last Care Fest in 2019 and attended in 2018.

“I’ve never experienced anything quite like it,” she said. “There’s a great feeling among people to really do something meaningful for their community. I’m very much looking forward to it.”

An independent artist her entire career, Stigeler-Cowher said she started playing piano as a child and began writing songs.

“I’ve always loved music, all kinds of music,” she said. “There was always something about rock music that lit a fire in me that still burns.”

She picked up a guitar in her early teens. “I realized it was a lot easier to jump around with a guitar than a piano,” she said.

Stigeler-Cowher counts women in rock such as Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson and Janice Joplin among her influences, along with bands such as Queen, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles.

“The songwriting was stellar,” she said. “It was also the amount of power that they wielded in their music. That was something I always paid attention to because of the way it made me feel. Rock music made me feel alive.”

As Stigeler’s life changed, her music also changed. “I wanted to write a totally different kind of song,” she said.

She returned to the piano and acoustic guitar, went to Nashville to work on her songwriting, and in 2016 released the first Bridges album — the name came to her in Nashville.

“It felt right,” she said. “I knew I was transitioning from one part of my life to another, from one artistic part to another. I wanted to connect more than anything else. I wanted to connect as a songwriter, and with all the people out there I hadn’t yet reached with this music.”

Almost every song on the 11-track Bridges Vol. 3 was recorded in two sessions in New York.

“Vol. 3 is very much the final chapter in the trilogy,” she said. “It really just shows how I’ve come full circle. When you hear the end of this album, it brings my entire career full circle.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, or via Twitter .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.