Justice Dewees loves to sing, and she loves musical theater. On Saturday, she showcased her talent of both.
For Seabreeze High School sophomore Justice Dewees, music is a creative outlet.
“When I’m upset, I listen to music," she said. "When I’m happy, I listen to music. Every occasion, I’ll be listening to music.”
That hasn't changed under the governor's stay-at-home order, and on Saturday, April 25, she decided to share her talents with her neighbors by hosting a concert on her driveway. Justice's heart lies with musical theater, and as the sun set in her Plantation Bay home, the 16-year-old performed classic Broadway songs like "I'm not Alone," from "Carrie" and "Nothing," from "A Chorus Line."
Neighbors set up chairs on the edge of her driveway — not too close, per social distancing guidelines — or watched from their own open garages. With the monotony that comes from staying home daily due to COVID-19, Justice said she hoped her concert provided a fun pause from everyone's usual routine.
“I’m sure having a little bit of a local change is a nice break," Justice said.
In the spotlight
Justice has been singing since she was a toddler. Her mother, who adopted her at six months old, first heard Justice sing when she was two years old. Justice had been singing the names of all the planets in the solar system, and even knew the continents and oceans by song, recalled her mother Pat Dewees.
At four years old, Justice sang her first solo. She's been taking voice lessons since she was six.
But Saturday's concert wasn't a first. When Justice was in first grade, she performed a "Lyrics and Lemonade" concert on her driveway to raise money for her Sunday school's project to fill rice bowls in Africa. She raised $365.
Dewees keeps a list of all her daughter's musical performances dating back to 2010. The list includes the song Justice sang, the role she played if it was part of a musical, and the number of solos performed during each concert.
One of the most memorable for Dewees was when Justice placed second of 18 in Flagler's "Bring Your Sing" competition in October 2019, which benefitted the Flagler Technical Institute. Justice sang "Home," from "Beetlejuice," the musical.
“I hadn’t heard her sing it, because she sits in the car in the garage because she doesn’t want me to hear her," Dewees said.
In 2018, the summer before her freshman year at Seabreeze, Justice performed at Carnegie Hall with her middle school honors chorus. Her mother found a seat near the front, but was worried she wouldn't be able to see her because her view was obstructed by the piano.
Justice ended up singing right in front of her, Dewees recalled.
We had eye contact the whole concert," Dewees said. "That was so special.”
Before the driveway concert, Justice's last solo concert was in 2014 at First United Methodist Church of Ormond Beach for "Imagine No Malaria," which helped raise money for malaria nets in Africa.
She's been involved with Children's Musical Theater, the Flagler Playhouse and New Smyrna Beach's Little Theater.
This summer, she's hoping to attend a summer conservatory program at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, should the pandemic not impact those plans.
Even so, the high school sophomore still felt nervous performing in front of her neighbors. She hadn't performed this way in a while, she said.
"But it feels good to give back and use my talent for entertainment,” Justice said.