There’s a common thread between Barbra Streisand and Mateo Nelson.
   They both suffer from stage fright. But while by all reports Streisand has had a longtime battle with her fear of performing before crowds, Nelson hopes his personal panic soon will be remedied. At least by Oct. 6.
    That’s when the Naugatuck Valley Community College student will perform in “Scenes and Songs from ‘Fannie Lou.’”
    “It’s my first real performance,” said Nelson, who aspires to become a professional singer. “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a singer [so] I’m slowly getting over my stage fright.”
Nelson is part of an ensemble cast that will present four performances of “Scenes and Songs from ‘Fannie Lou.’” The event is a staged reading of selections from the dialogue and score of a new musical, “Fannie Lou,” inspired by the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. It will be performed Oct. 6, 7 and 8 at the Yerwood Center, 90 Fairfield Ave., Stamford. All evening performances benefit nonprofits. The Saturday matinee will be a benefit for the cast and crew. Composer Felicia Hunter hopes the performances will be a prelude to a Broadway run, and are presenting them to attract potential backers.
   While Nelson characterizes himself as “a singer, not an actor,” he’s been progressing well with character development, said Hunter.
   “He’s done so well developing his accent,” said Hunter regarding Nelson, who plays a lead role of a local Southern aristocrat in one of the “Fannie Lou” scenes. “There are verbal nuances specific to the type of character he plays in that scene, and Mateo is really picking up on them.”
Like selections in the show, Nelson says he wants to “write and sing real music that means something.” To conquer his fear of appearing before audiences, he’s been performing karaoke. “It’s slowly working,” he said.
    Nelson, 22, first became interested in performing while watching Michael Jackson videos. Other favorite artists are Lauren Hill and Stevie Wonder.
“He’s the definition of a true artist,” Nelson said about Wonder. “He plays everything. His voice was sent from Heaven. He’s an inspiration.”
   To prepare for his “Fannie Lou” performance, Nelson is “just getting myself mentally ready,” he said. And, of course, he’s continuously working to “get rid of my stage fright,” he said, adding that he looks forward to triumphing over that obstacle. “It’s definitely a self-esteem booster.”
Tickets for “Scenes and Songs from ‘Fannie Lou’” are $10. Proceeds from the Oct. 6, 7 and 8 evening performances benefit area nonprofits. Proceeds from the Oct. 8 matinee performance benefit the all-volunteer cast and crew. All performances take place at the Yerwood Center, 90 Fairfield Ave., Stamford. To purchase tickets, contact Nelson or any other cast or crew member, or email