Each era in American history has a certain music or sound associated with it and the 1940s is known for its jazz and big band styles. This time in history was also the era of World War II, so music conveyed the uncertainty of our country, while still remaining upbeat and positive about the future. Letters from Home is a nationally known group that resides locally in Winston-Salem and shares songs from that era, taking their audiences to a simpler time. “Letters from Home gets our inspiration from the true greats of the 1940s. We especially relate to Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, but also pull inspiration from Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., The Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It’s so important for us to keep the performance style of the 1940s alive,” said Erinn Diaz of Letters from Home. The two ladies who make up ‘Letters from Home,’ Erinn Diaz and Serah Haley, both grew up in Winston-Salem, and can’t remember a time when music wasn’t part of their lives.
To say Erinn Diaz came into this world in an unusual way would be an understatement. “I was born in a car in Aurora, California, during a snowstorm and life has been a whirlwind since then. My family moved to this area when my dad took a position with Piedmont Airlines. Theatre, dance and music has been a part of my life since the age of three. I grew up at the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem (now Twin City Stage) and was involved in every production there from age 10-17, when I moved to Florida to start my professional theatrical career. I am the creator and choreographer of Letters from Home and oversee my non-profit organization, Spring Theatre, a theatre company I founded in North Carolina in 2013.” Erinn has worked on over 250 theatrical productions nationwide, as well as being in several TV shows and movies. She co-founded First in Flight Entertainment with her husband and manager of Letters from Home, Nelson Diaz. The company now has offices in both Chicago and North Carolina. Her resumé doesn’t stop there, though. Erinn is also a published author, a national tap dance champion and has worked on cruise ships and toured with Cirque productions.
When Serah’s dad was called to the ministry in North Carolina, her family relocated to the Winston-Salem area. Much like Erinn, Serah grew up with music. “My entire family is musical and I grew up singing with them, traveling across the country; we still enjoy playing and singing bluegrass together. In high school I founded RJ Reynolds’ first female a Capella group, Syncop8 and directed UNC’s oldest acapella group, Tarheel Voices. After graduation, I poured myself into serving in education, moving to Chicago with my husband, Mathew. We returned to NC, where I taught at Forsyth Country Day School, and where I implemented two early education programs,” Serah commented. Though Serah is now full time with Letters from Home, in her ‘free’ time, Serah helps her dad, Kevin Frack, on the family farm, Terra Sol Farms. She also supports her husband’s local business, Haley European Motors, and loves to spend time with her family, including her stepson Nathan and a chocolate Lab named Sydney, and leaves time for her favorite thing of all…eating!
The two talented women originally met performing in a community theatre musical in high school, but after the show, lost touch. Some eight years later, at a Sunday dinner with the family, Erinn’s dad, Pat Dearth, a Coast Guard veteran, suggested she start a group, performing music from the ‘40s. By chance, on Tuesday of that week, Erinn and Serah were reunited, and Letters from Home was born.
Letters from Home has performed in over 20 states across the country in a wide variety of venues such as VFWs, retirement homes, parades, theatres, air shows, conventions and memorials. “Even though we enjoy going to big theatres and performing for large crowds, the greatest joy we have is seeing the faces of our audiences as they are touched by the music from the greatest generation. It has always been the mission of Letters from Home to honor our veterans, active military and their families by paying tribute to the music and style of the 1940s. We want to continue to honor as many as we can and hope to perform on a USO tour as well,” Erinn stated.
For more information on Letters from Home, including tour dates or to purchase one of their three albums, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You,’ ‘Sentimental Journey’ and ‘In the Mood,’ visit www.LettersFromHomeSingers.com. Check Erinn and Serah out of Facebook at Facebook.com/LettersFromHomeSingers.