Joe Dias follows his sister’s advice: ‘Don’t let your fears be bigger than your dreams’

May 5, 2016 by

Published in the May 4, 2016 edition

SEE Joe Dias perform live at The Middle East in Cambridge on Saturday, May 14 at 6 p.m. The all-ages show is a benefit tribute concert in memory of his sister Gianna. All proceeds will be used to buy fun arts and crafts materials and other supplies for the children’s activity room on Ellison 18 at MGH Boston. Tickets are available at the door for $20. (Gibson Hazard Photo)

SEE Joe Dias perform live at The Middle East in Cambridge on Saturday, May 14 at 6 p.m. The all-ages show is a benefit tribute concert in memory of his sister Gianna. All proceeds will be used to buy fun arts and crafts materials and other supplies for the children’s activity room on Ellison 18 at MGH Boston. Tickets are available at the door for $20. (Gibson Hazard Photo)

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

LYNNFIELD — Growing up, Joe and Gianna Dias shared a very special bond. Most siblings squabble, especially in their teen years, but their bond remained close, especially so after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Joe recalled her diagnosis came near Christmas when he was a freshman at Lynnfield High School and she was an eighth grader in the middle school. Her cancer was in her spine, a type of sarcoma called Chordoma.

At the time, Gianna would go into his room and listen to him sing and play his guitar. “But I never put myself out there,” he said. Until the day Gianna made a simple request. She asked him to make a video of a song.

“It was ‘Thinkin About You’ by Frank Ocean. And I posted it. And as she progressively got sicker and sicker and had to be in the hospital more, it got to the point where she’d tell me the song to do and I would send it to her. It would be something she would look forward to, so I would just keep on doing it for her,” he said.

Their mom Lisa agrees it was Gianna who convinced her son to put his music on YouTube. “She said, ‘This is what you love to do, why would you let your fears or what people think of you hold you back from what you want to do?’”

“So she basically taught him with what she was facing, who cares what people think — do what you want to do. So he started putting his stuff on YouTube. I think he has 20,000 Twitter fans and a nice little following here in Boston,” Lisa said.

She added, “He also wrote this beautiful song for her called ‘Away.’ It’s a beautiful tribute song to her and I think it has 85,000 views on YouTube.”

During Gianna’s hospitalizations at Mass. General Hospital in Boston, she would spend her time on the children’s floor, Ellison 18. There was an activity room on this floor where all the children would go when they were feeling well enough. Joe recalled that whenever he visited his sister at MGH she was always in this room making crafts. Her mom referred to the room as her daughter’s “safe haven.” Being in that space brought back her daughter’s beautiful smile.

“It was a slow deal from the initial ‘oh, you have cancer,’ to her dying. There were moments when we thought everything was going to get better. We never thought she was going to die. You just can’t even put that thought in your head,” Joe recalled.

Sadly, that day did come, not long after Gianna’s 15th birthday, the summer before what would have been her sophomore year in high school and his junior year. She also left behind their dad, John, and their younger sister, Lucia, who was only 5.

“So after that I took it upon myself that this was what I want to do with my life because this is what we did together and she gave me the dream,” Joe said.

It has been nearly four years since Gianna lost her battle to cancer. Had she graduated with her classmates last year, she’d likely be finishing up her freshman year of college this month.

Joe’s passion has remained pursuing his dream to make music. “My favorite thing to do is just grab a guitar and sing a song or play the piano and sing a song,” he said. For years, he has been playing live shows, both solo and with bands, and continues to write music, make videos and play both original and cover tunes of all genres.

After attending Berklee College of Music in Boston on scholarship for awhile he decided it wasn’t the right fit for where his creativity was taking him. Now he is presently living in Los Angeles and making as many contacts as he can in the music world there.

“I want to make music and do good things with it. And I don’t want to start doing good things once I’m rich and famous. I’d rather start doing it now,” he said during a phone interview from Los Angeles on Monday.

Benefit tribute show May 14

With Joe’s connections back home in Boston, particularly at the Middle East Nightclub in Cambridge, where he has performed many times and drawn quite a crowd, he has decided now would be a good time to give back. He is very excited about the tribute benefit concert he has planned for Saturday, May 14. All of the profits from this all-ages show will be donated to the Children’s Activity room on Ellison 18 at MGH in honor of Gianna.

He believes Gianna would be very happy that he is using his music as a fundraiser for arts and crafts and toys or whatever else is needed for the activity room at MGH “because she was in this room every single day. Whenever we visited she’d go in there and she’d make arts and crafts and it would be the only place where she could have fun.”

“They could make that place so much better. That room should be like DisneyWorld because they have nothing else to be happy about, so why can’t that be?” he said.

His show starts at 6 p.m. and tickets are available at the door for $20. Presale tickets are also available online (Middle-east-downstairs-tickets-cambridge) and can be held at the will call window for pick up the day of the show.

Joe is flying home from L.A. this weekend and looking forward to seeing his little sister, Lucia, who is now 9, his parents and Gianna’s dog, Penny, as well as his friends.

“I’m really excited about the show now,” he said. He will be sharing the stage with two other musicians, Pat Sicotte and Amanda McCarthy. He described both of these musicians on a recent Facebook post as “two of the hardest working, talented local artists I have ever seen.”

“The reason why he is trying to make it in the music industry is he told me that Gianna’s life is going to have a purpose because Gianna’s life gave his life purpose,” his mom said.

“He wants the world to know that she was here, and if he can do it by doing what he loves, and help someone else that is in her situation, what better way to say, ‘Hey, Gianna was here and she was awesome?’”

She was a young lady who was wise beyond her years and who felt a spiritual connection to God, her mom said. Lisa said a favorite quote that Gianna tweeted was: “Don’t let your fears be bigger than your dreams.”

“She had a really profound faith and she truly felt connected somehow.” Lisa recalled breaking the news to her daughter about the  cause of her neck pain. I said, ‘It is cancer, honey, but we’re going to take care of it,’ and she said to me, ‘Ma, God answered my prayer.’ I asked her, ‘Why would you say that?’ And she said, ‘Because He knew that I was the only one that could handle it.’”

“She just accepted it all. She never complained. She never said why me. We laughed every day. We didn’t wallow in self pity. The things that got stripped away from her, we just found a different way. She couldn’t eat because of where her cancer was and the operation left her without the ability to swallow. So instead of eating, she would cook for us,” her mom said. “She was an amazing little girl.”

The Middle East

The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub is located at 472-480 Mass Ave., Cambridge. Visit them online or call (617) 864-3278 for ticket information.

Follow Joe

To see the latest music posted by Joe Dias, find him on YouTube, like him on Facebook or find him on Twitter or Instagram at JoeDiasOfficial.

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