Nicole Zuraitis to sing ‘Just Like That’ at Broadway Belts for PFF!

Grammy nominee to perform at 2023 pulmonary fibrosis fundraiser in NYC

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by Mary Chapman |

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Nicole Zuraitis is set to perform “Just Like That,” the 2023 Grammy Awards’ Song of the Year, at the 13th edition of “Broadway Belts for PFF!” — a glam affair that’s become the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s single-largest annual fundraiser — on March 6.

Written by Bonnie Raitt, the song is based on a real-life story about an organ donation and the gift of life. Zuraitis herself was nominated in 2019 for a Grammy in the best arrangement, instruments, and vocals category for the song “Jolene,” written and recorded by Dolly Parton.

The Broadway Belts for PFF! fundraiser, which also seeks to increase awareness of pulmonary fibrosis (PF), will take place at a new event venue, Sony Hall, in New York City, this year. As in previous editions, it will feature Broadway stars and other prominent members of the entertainment industry for a night of music, comedy, and performance.

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Gala to take to new venue in 2023

The fundraiser’s host is once again actress and comedienne Julie Halston, whose husband, Ralph Howard, died in 2018 following a PF diagnosis from 10 years earlier. The longtime New York-area broadcaster, for whom the gala’s annual Legacy Award for PF advocacy is named, had undergone a lung transplant.

This year’s Ralph Howard Legacy Award recipient will be Broadway actor Robert Creighton, whose mother died from PF. He and Halston raised a record $138,000 during the live auction at last year’s event.

“Listening to Bonnie Raitt’s song was such an emotional experience as my husband was given the extraordinary gift of eight years of life from an organ donation,” Halston, who received the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award in 2021 for her PFF fundraising efforts, said in a press release.

“During those eight years, Ralph was able to meet his great-grandchildren, walk his daughter down the aisle, return to work on the Howard Stern show and travel the world with me,” Halston said, adding, “I am forever grateful to the donor and the donor’s family for the incredible gift of life given to Ralph.”

Listening to Bonnie Raitt’s song was such an emotional experience as my husband was given the extraordinary gift of eight years of life from an organ donation.

A longtime stage actress who appeared in “Tootsie” and “Gossip Girl,” among other productions, Halston noted the possible benefits of lung transplants, which can extend and improve the lives of PF patients.

“Bonnie Raitt’s song is profound, especially for people and their loved ones whose lives have been lengthened by the miracle of an organ transplant. I couldn’t be more pleased that this song has raised awareness of the importance of registering for organ donation,” said Halston, who, with Howard, established the fundraising event in 2010.

“We are honored to be including this song, sung by such a talented vocalist, in our benefit evening as many in the room will understand what this song is about first-hand,” she added.

This year’s celebrity lineup also will include Kate Baldwin, a two-time Tony-nominee for “Hello, Dolly!” and “Finian’s Rainbow,” and Julie Benko of “Funny Girl,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Les Misérables.” Also appearing will be Emily Bergl of “Good Night, Oscar,” “The Ferryman,” and “Desperate Housewives,” and Jason Tam of  “Be More Chill,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “KPOP.”

Before the live show begins, virtual attendees will be invited to an interactive experience that will include a mixology class about cocktail and mocktail iterations of Broadway-themed drinks. The in-person program will include a cocktail reception, a three-course dinner, and a post-gala party.

In-person and virtual tickets are still available at $1,000 for individual main floor seats and $50 each for the virtual event.

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