Noise An Arts Blog

Benefit show planned for saxophonist whose carjacking story went viral

A benefit concert is planned for Sarah Hughes, a local saxophonist who was assaulted during a carjacking and lost her Selmer Mark VI, wallet with money from a gig, phone, and Hyundai.

In a July 24 Facebook post, Hughes wrote that she was heading to a jam session on N. Calvert and E. 23rd streets when she was attacked. Two teenage boys threw her to the ground, punched and kicked her in the mouth six times, and took her Hyundai Elantra, she wrote. When she pleaded with them to let her keep the saxophone that was still in the car, one of them responded, "No, bitch." It took police 15-20 minutes to arrive on the scene after Hughes flagged someone and called 911.

The post has since gone viral, receiving more than 1,700 shares and a little more than 700 comments as of this writing.

The benefit show, scheduled for Aug. 6 at the Windup Space, so far includes jazz musicians Lafayette Gilchrist, Gregory Thompkins, John Dierker, and Luke Stewart, as well as Hughes' own ensemble. A suggested minimum donation of $10 is encouraged.

"I am so appreciative of all the love and support from everyone and especially touched by the efforts of Janel Leppin and Bernard Lyons to set up benefit shows on my behalf," Hughes writes via email.

In the Facebook post, Hughes included a selfie showing her swollen lip and asked for help tracking down her sax, but she also wished to talk to her assailants.

"I pray to find the boys so that I can talk to them," she wrote. "I feel mobilized by this experience."

As with so many things that land in front of lots of eyeballs on the internet, there was no shortage of trolls surfacing on her post to lob coded racist comments or plug concealed carry.

"I can't believe that when my post is clearly in favor of peaceful and compassionate comprehension of the situation, people would rather have me enraged and vengeful towards the perpetrators," Hughes writes. "Yes, they deserve punishment, no they do not deserve death wishes. I believe in rehabilitation."

As for the NRA stans, she writes that Baltimore doesn't need more guns.

But mostly people, including fellow musicians from across the country, posted their sympathies and asked how to help. 

"I didn't anticipate so many strangers being touched and wanting to help monetarily," Hughes writes.

There are no leads yet as to the location of Hughes' horn. She is on her way to a festival in the Adirondacks with the student model she got in 4th grade. At some point she says she'll travel to various locations in Pennsylvania to try out some of the free ones offered to her by commenters.

Hughes says she sees the Windup show less as a fundraiser and more as "an event to catalyze solidarity, conversation, and creative action within the music community."

"We need to figure out a way to use our powers to help our community," she writes. "Many musicians are also natural teachers—I believe we can create a place to share our powers with the people who need it, and do it on a large scale where it counts."

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