When Charlotte live music promoter Gregg McCraw asked documentary filmmaker Therese Batholomew who she wanted to perform at the benefit for her film "The Final Gift," she knew immediately.
"He asked me who really makes sense?" she recalls. "I said Shawn Mullins."
Mullins, the Atlanta-based songwriter who scored a No. 1 single with 1998's "Lullaby," will perform as part of the benefit today at McGlohon Theatre.
"Shawn was my brother's favorite singer-songwriter. The Christmas before he was killed, my brother came over one morning and said, 'I learned a new song' and played it for me. It was Shawn Mullins' song 'Shimmer.'"
Batholomew's brother Steve was shot and killed outside a club in Greenville, S.C., in February 2003. His death sent her into a tailspin of depression for a year until she awoke one night with the idea to make a documentary film about her loss and struggle. That film, "The Final Gift," has evolved into a film about forgiveness, crime and restorative justice. In it Batholomew, who has since gotten a master's degree in criminal justice, meets with her brother's murderer in jail.
Filming is complete. Her goal for Saturday is to raise $25,000 to pay for editing and post-production to ready the film for release.
The decision to perform wasn't a difficult one for Mullins.
"I was told 'You were his favorite artist. He loved the song "Shimmer."' He was basically living it. That really moved me ," said Mullins, who is currently touring in support of his new album "Light You Up."
Batholomew is thinking of the concert as not only a fundraiser but as a tribute to Steve. Rick Spreitzer and Kevin Edwards, Justin Tosco featuring Kendall Gurske, and the Near Misses' Shana Blake, Eva Gael, and Etta Lea also will perform. "I wanted them there because they'd written a song for the film specifically or were in some way attached to me or my brother," says Batholomew.
The event also will feature a Q&A with Batholomew, a silent auction and footage from the film.
When Batholomew, who teaches at CPCC, started the project, she had no film experience. But with a small crew of volunteers, an Arts & Science Council grant, and donations from members of the community, she can add filmmaker to her resume.
"All these people offered to help. John Tosco (who taught her brother guitar lessons) said, 'I'll host it. I'll help you find musical acts.' Gregg - as soon as he heard the story he was compelled," she adds. "It's one of those things - I'd really like to call my brother and tell him who I got for the benefit. Thank God Shawn was able to fit us in. He'll never know how much it means to me."