Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sheryl Crow taps local fifth-grade cancer fighter to sing at Clearwater Jazz Holiday

With a peach-colored bow in her hair and shiny beads around her neck, Marissa Peddie, 10, took center stage last Saturday at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday and harmonized with Sheryl Crow. Although she is in remission now, Marissa has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia for two years, and after Crow, a well-known cancer survivor, heard her sing backstage, she asked the Lake St. George fifth-grader to help her cover Cat Stevens' The First Cut Is the Deepest. Turn to page 4 for a Q&A with Marissa.

The meeting with Sheryl Crow came about with help from Allon Sams, music committee chairperson for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation. Sams has served as a music mentor for Marissa Peddie since meeting her in the spring during the Youth Night Jam Series at the Living Room in Dunedin.

"We had hoped a meet-and-greet could happen for Marissa, but we had no idea she'd be invited on stage," Sams said. "She really was not nervous at all. She was up there, joking around, and then somewhere in the song, she decided to take it out and began to ad lib. The crowd loved it."

We caught up with Marissa by phone Monday and talked about her aspirations, her visit with the music icon and how it felt to sing inside Coachman Park with thousands of music fans cheering her on. "The only thing I'd change is I'd wear a different dress," Marissa said. "I didn't know I'd be singing on stage."

Marissa lives in Tarpon Springs with her parents, Jennifer and Brian.

To check out more of her music, visit

Were you nervous?

A little bit. My heart started pounding. My hands were sweaty, but the audience started applauding, and it made me feel good. It made me feel more confident. I felt complimented.

What is your advice to other kids who are going through leukemia?

I would say never give up and keep fighting, and one day, you will kick cancer's butt.

As you sang, I saw that you would look up at Sheryl every few moments. Would that make you feel better?

A little bit. I knew she believed in me.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A singer, a dance teacher, a Publix worker, a dentist, and I want to find a cure for cancer.

When you were finished, leaving the stage, Sheryl said, "That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the human spirit is all about." What do her words mean to you?

They mean a lot. I think they had to do with how your human spirit helps you pursue your talent to touch people's hearts.

Contact Piper Castillo at Follow @Florida_PBJC.

Sheryl Crow taps local fifth-grade cancer fighter to sing at Clearwater Jazz Holiday 10/20/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 5:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]