Susan Cowsill knows what it's like to lose everything in a natural disaster.
If anything, the storm and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has taught the woman who grew up performing and entertaining the value of gratitude.
"That's why we're coming to the Lehigh Valley, to support those who right now need it most," Cowsill says.
Cowsill, a Hurricane Katrina survivor and resident of New Orleans, will headline the "Concert for a Cause" benefit for Superstorm Sandy relief efforts tonight at Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem -- underscoring positive lessons learned from tragic disasters.
What she learned was "the great capacity of humans for goodness, and the power of approaching life from a place of gratitude and abundance," says Cowsill. "We lost everything, but because we didn't stay in the city, we survived it. Many others were not so fortunate."
Cowsill says she lost possessions during Katrina, but most difficult was the death of one of her brothers who did stay, and the loss of family heirlooms and photographs.
"It's a process, we just have to hold to all we have, and be reminded there are those who had and have it worse," Cowsill says. "You also learn that stuff is just stuff."
Sharing the Musikfest Cafe stage with Cowsill and her husband and music partner, Russ Broussard, is longtime friend, and Lehigh Valley regular, guitarist Todd Wolfe and his band.
"Todd is a Jersey boy, too, so for him (Superstorm) Sandy is very close to home," Cowsill says.
Other scheduled performers are Don Cunningham and Associates, This Way to the Egress, Donovan Roberts, the students of Hawk Music, the students of Doc's West End Music, The School of Rock and the students of The Lesson Center.
No stranger to the stage, Cowsill has been performing since childhood, when as an 8-year-old she appeared alongside her mother and brothers on such television programs hosted by the likes of Ed Sullivan and Johnny Cash.
"We were the original Partridge Family the story was made for, except when it came down to do the show, the (producers) said we were too old to do it," Cowsill says.
Proceeds from the concert will be donated to American Red Cross disaster relief, according to a news release. American Bank is matching donations to the American Red Cross, for a total of up to $50,000 through Dec. 31, according to the release.
"Everyone that comes out may feel like one drop in the bucket. But if there are enough drops, we can make a difference," Cowsill says.
In addition to the concert, Cowsill will lead a songwriting workshop Saturday at The Lesson Center, 2600 Center St., Northampton, with an emphasis on participants exploring their creativity.
"I am not musically trained. I don't know music theory, and I've not taken lessons, but I believe everyone has creativity inside themselves," Cowsill explains.