It all started with a conversation.
Last year, Patch reporter Deb Kelley interviewed Tampa Pitcher Show founders Wayne and Cindy Valenti and their daughter Karianne about their 30thanniversary in the Carrollwood community.
During their chat, Kelley asked if the venue had ever hosted a spoken word event. The family was open and eager.
Kelley immediately volunteered.
The event titled "Life Amplified All-Ages Spoken Word Community Showcase" will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Tampa Pitcher Show, 14416 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Carrollwood.
"I was a fan of spoken word poetry and already knew a perfect nonprofit to receive part of the $8 ticket price," Kelley said. "I had previously written, produced and hosted fashion shows and a talent show, so I figured this couldn’t be much different."
Life Amplified was born out a desire to showcase hidden talent in the community while educating the public on the reality of human trafficking in Tampa Bay. She decided to make the event open to all ages after watching young people perform on a cable documentary.
Proceeds raised will go to Redefining Refuge, a local nonprofit dedicated to fighting human trafficking.
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"People don’t realize human trafficking is happening in our neighborhoods," said Kelley. "This is a local charity that is putting that unvarnished truth in people’s faces and daring them not to look away. They are in the process of opening a safe house to provide shelter for rescued trafficked women and children. This was the dream of one woman and look how far it’s come."
Nine poets of all ages and experiences will take to the stage to tell their stories on Saturday.
"What started out an intimate forum for poetry has turned into so much more," said Kelley. "We have mentalist Justin Myers and comedian and impressionist Eddie James opening for our poets and an acoustic singer Indilacia Everett closing the show."
Kelley reached out to the community for performer and program sponsors through posts on Craigslist, Facebook and other classified and social media sites.
Myers was one of the first volunteers who contacted Kelley to donate his time and talent.
James, featured on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, was also eager to volunteer. “I am honored to perform for a great cause to help women and children in need,” he said.
Life Amplified’s poets include a twice-published, disabled Vietnam Vet, US Marine Gordon Kuhn; author Cari Oleskwicz; poet Rain; a singer and songwriter from Brooklyn, Rae’ Mercurie; a high school student, actress, songwriter and model Sasha Ollen; a member of the improv troupe Nine and Numb, Ashley Kix; poet and lyricist, Figment the Emcee; USF freshman McKenzie Step, as well as, Kelley herself.
Though the ages and experience levels range from beginner to professional, they all came together for the same reason – to help a worthwhile cause.
"The community, as a whole opened their arms to us," Kelley said adding that . Mick McNabb will serve as the professional photographer and Minuteman Press printed the event program.
"There are amazing people in the community. You just have to ask. You’d be surprised how many people actually want to help," she said.
Show goers can purchase Redefining Refuge merchandise at the event as well.
Life Amplified runs Saturday night 5 to 7 p.m. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are just $8 at the Tampa Pitcher Show box office after 5 p.m. this week or at the door.