Article from Rolling Stone
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Mariah Invites Fan to Open

Cancer patient gets dream gig in Santa Barbara

Mariah Carey

Finding a new hero

Six weeks after having her left leg amputated, sixteen-year-old Becca Solodon stood in front of her hometown Santa Barbara crowd at the Arlington Theater Monday night as Mariah Carey's opening act. Clad in all black, Solodon sang a cover of the Lifehouse song "Simon," putting a triumphant cap on a year that began with a mysterious ailment.

"My foot started hurting about a year ago and we went to a ton of different doctors, took X-Rays, I did physical therapy and nobody knew what it was," says Solodon. "Finally we asked if we could have an MRI and they found a soft tissue mass, a tumor the size of a marble and I went through surgery to get that removed and then they were like 'Yeah, everything's fine.' But then they called back five days later and said 'There's still some there and it's malignant.'"

Diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, Solodon underwent several chemotherapy sessions before having her leg amputated at mid-calf on October 31st, after doctors determined the operation was the only way to thwart the potentially life-threatening tumor.

Solodon's path to the stage was paved by Damion Young, a songwriter and producer who has written songs for Carey and rapper Kurupt. A Santa Barbara native, Young helmed a recording session earlier in the year at Westlake Studios, where keyboardist Ronnie King (Offspring, Snoop Dogg) and a group of professional musicians backed Solodon in a fourteen-hour session.

"I started telling her [Carey] that I met this little girl that changed my life," Young says. "I said that Becca made me realize why we do all this, because her only dream was to spend one day in the studio. And she was like, 'I'm on tour, what can we do?' I said, 'Santa Barbara,' and she said, 'Perfect. Opening act. Set it up. Bye.'"

After performing "Simon" with King, in front of an audience that included her father, mother, brother, grandmother and a high-pitched contingent of classmates from Dos Pueblos High School, Solodon went backstage to meet Carey. "She said, 'Thank you for singing,'" says Solodon. "Oh, and, 'Hello.'"

(December 16, 2003)