April 7 will mark the 11th annual Canines, Cats and Cabernet fundraising event that helps the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center greatly.

The event has always been considered to be a good time (which benefits a good cause) and a lot of that is due to the entertainment that is always present. This year is no different, as various forms of entertainment will be present. However there’s one form — the musical entertainment -— that has a special connection to the center itself.

Music for the evening will be provided by local Brownwood resident Debra Mathis. She just hasn’t helped the center with her musical talent though, as she’s lent a helping hand for quite some time now.

“I got involved several years ago actually,” said Mathis. “I had a cat get rather sick and I was told to come to the animal center, especially if I needed to put her down, as they do it for a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately that was the option I had to really look at. After I did that, they said I should just go ahead and volunteer here, especially since I knew a couple of people who were did the same.”

She listened to the suggestion and immediately jumped on board, helping do whatever she could, whenever she could.

“I ended up doing it for about three years solid and I absolutely loved it,” Mathis explained. “It was something I really enjoyed doing because I love animals. After those three years I scaled back, but I filled in regularly when someone couldn’t show and did that up until last year. I was also the go to person on the software that they used for a long time as well.”

Animals were one of Mathis’ passions. She loved both dogs and cats and was glad to volunteer in any way possible.

While she loved animals, she has had another love and that’s music. It, too, is another passion she has and is probably the one she’s had the longest.

“Music for me started when I was 4,” Mathis said. “That’s when I started having music lessons. I’ve been playing professionally since I was 12, though. Music has been my life. I have a degree in Music Theory and Composition from Western Michigan University. I’ve played a lot of different venues all over and play a lot of different styles of music. I love music and I love playing music.”

So when Mathis was offered the opportunity to combine her love of music with her love of animals, she couldn’t resist.

“If I haven’t helped physically at the shelter, I’ve tried to help through my music at their fundraisers,” she said. “Of course I’ve always enjoyed playing music, so when they asked me to play for their events it seemed like a no brainer to me. I think I started around 2010 and have played their two annual events quite a bit since then.”

Seven years later, it’s become one of her favorite times to perform and she believes it’s important to keep on helping the shelter whenever, and however, possible.

“Music is what I do, but being able to do it for the animal shelter is very special to me,” said Mathis. “I have a lot of fond memories here. I met a lot of good people and had a chance to care for some loving animals. I actually have three cats now that I just planned to foster from here, but ended up adopting, so I have a very strong connection to this place. Getting to help support the shelter, which is something I care a lot about, by doing my music, which is what I love to do, is incredibly special to me. It’s very dear to my heart.”

Tickets to the event are $60 per person and can be purchased at Wendlee Broadcasting, the shelter or by contacting any board member.

To find out more about Mathis’ music, she encourages everyone to check out her Facebook page.