ABOUT LETTERS FROM HOME
Erinn Diaz and Serah Haley met while performing in a production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Winston-Salem in 2001. After the show, they lost touch, taking the different paths that life had created for them. Then, in 2009 during family dinner, Coast Guard veteran Pat Dearth gave his daughter, Erinn, the idea of starting a 1940's Andrews Sisters Tribute group. That very week, after not having seen Serah for years, Erinn went to teach an after-school theatre class at Forsyth Country Day School. The class she had been assigned to meet in Serah's preschool classroom, and they were reunited, by chance.
They originally started as a trio, mostly paying tribute to the music of the Andrews Sisters through Letters From Home's Andrews Sisters Tribute Show. As the group grew, Nelson Diaz came on board as their manager in 2010. Since then, Serah, Erinn and Nelson have been touring the country with their mission to honor veterans, active military and their families through the music and style of the 1940's. Letters From Home has performed for hundreds of thousands across the country - from Florida to Alaska.
THE LETTERS FROM HOME TEAM
Erinn Diaz was born in a car in Aurora, Colorado during a snowstorm, and her life has been a whirlwind since day one! She is the creator and choreographer of Letters From Home. While not working on Letters From Home, Erinn is the Executive Director of Spring Theatre, a non-profit theatre company in North Carolina that she passionately founded in 2013. Erinn is also the creator and owner of First in Flight Entertainment which has offices in North Carolina and Chicago. Erinn has been working in the entertainment industry since she was barely walking, and has worked on over 250 theatrical productions nationwide, as well as being in several TV shows and movies. Erinn is also a published author, a national tap dance champion, has worked on-board cruise ships and toured with Cirque productions. She is married to Letters From Home manager Nelson Diaz and has three wonderful step-children and an adorable hamster named Shakespeare.
Erinn Says: My dad, Pat Dearth, is a veteran who served in the United States Coast Guard. When he first suggested to me that I produce a 1940's-style show, I just thought it would be a fun way to entertain and an opportunity to perform some great music. I had no idea at the time that this "little show" would have such a significant impact on my life, but more importantly on the lives of others. Since we started this show, we have had the opportunity to perform for literally thousands of heroes, including many World War II veterans. These incredible men and women are the reason we are free today. We have been honored to bring back happy memories and touch lives in a way that words alone can not express. A woman at one of our shows hugged me, sobbing tears of joy, thanking us for making her feel happiness that she hadn't felt in 60 years and never thought she could feel again. A man at a VA hospital stood up to hug us after a show as his nurses rushed to him in shock because he hadn't stood by himself in years. A WWII veteran departing on the Flights of Honor on the way to Washington DC to see his memorial did the jitterbug with me before returning to his wheelchair. I am so proud and humbled to call these brave men and women my friends. I have met true American heroes and truly feel I could never say thank you enough. My performances are dedicated to my Uncle Jim, a Vietnam veteran, my brother Randy, currently serving in the Air Force, my friend and WWII veteran Dewitt Wells, my dear husband Nelson, a veteran of the Air Force, and especially my daddy, a veteran of the United States Coast Guard who was always my inspiration and gave me the idea for the show. They and all veterans are why I do this.
Serah Haley is the musical director, resident red-head and foodie for Letters From Home. She moved to Winston-Salem when she was ten years old and has been involved with music for as long as she can remember. She first learned her tight harmony from singing with her family as they traveled across the country on road trips. As a Tar Heel, she directed the Tar Heel Voices at UNC Chapel Hill. After graduating, she poured herself into serving in education as she moved to Chicago with her husband, Mathew. Upon returning to North Carolina, she began teaching at Forsyth Country Day School. There she developed and implemented two early education programs. Today, when she is not creating and performing with Letters From Home, Serah works alongside her dad, Kevin Frack, on their family farm, Terra Sol Farms. She also has an awesome stepson, Nathan, a goofy chocolate lab, and loves to eat...a lot.
Serah Says: I believe that most of my generation lives life as though wars were only really "fought" many years ago and find it hard to relate to those who have protected our freedom even before we were born. We watch the news and receive a very "arms-length" perspective on the wars of today. I was raised to believe that to lay down one's life for another is the greatest sacrifice of all, so why would we not continue to honor and show our gratitude today as we did so many years ago? The 1940s were governed by war in a way that my generation will never know. What I do know is the men that emerged from WWII or any war since then deserve so much more than any thank you I could ever offer. My grandfather, John F. Vance, fought bravely in the front lines of the U.S. Army in France during WWII. Only when he was nearing the end of his life did I ever truly begin to get a glimpse into his experience during the war. When Erinn approached me with the idea of putting together a tribute to his era, I was ecstatic! Unfortunately, he passed away one month before we began rehearsing for this show. I know how much this show would have meant to him, so I put my heart and soul into it to honor him and his brothers who fought next to him. My grandfather, Robert Frack, served our nation ten years later overseas in the U.S. Air Force and continues to be one of our greatest supporters today. I am so thankful to both of them for instilling in me a love for my country, and a humble respect for those who have risked their lives to protect me. So, why do I do this? I do this because, whether you served on your belly at the front line of WWII, overseas in a draft, enlisted on your own accord, or are still serving our country today, I owe every freedom I have to you and want to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Nelson Diaz (Letters From Home Manager) has always been a supporter and lover of the arts, and is passionate about providing the community quality entertainment. An official "Half-Back", Nelson grew up in New York, moved to Florida, and then came half-back to settle in North Carolina with his wonderful wife, Erinn Diaz. A graduate of Columbia University now turned entrepreneur. Father to three amazing kids, Max, Diana and Yoko, and "grandpa" to Caleigh. When Nelson is not touring with Letters From Home, he is the CEO of First in Flight Entertainment, and is a passionate business and life coach.
Nelson Says: If you haven’t seen the face of a WWII veteran light up when we bring back those powerful and wonderful memories, you haven’t experienced joy. If you haven’t seen a 91 year old grab a hold of one of the performers and do the jitterbug as his caretaker then walks over and says to him, after the dance, “Here is the wheel chair you requested”, then you haven’t experienced gut wrenching laughter. If you haven’t seen caretakers rush to a combat veteran at the VA Hospital who stood up from his wheel chair and walked over to hug one of the girls at the end of the show, but yet no one had ever seen him walk, then you haven’t experienced the awesome magnitude of an emotional miracle. I have seen the faces of the men and women who have sacrificed so much for us. I have thanked them and this is what I hear the most as a reply….”You are worth it.” I tear up every time. It is why I feel so strongly about it and it is why we do this.