A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Jason Turner
Giving young and lesser-known artists a chance to show their craft is vital to growing any type of music scene. Without young blood, the art of live performances will die out. The Gasparilla Music Festival does what it can to make sure that doesn’t happen.
A big part of the Gasparilla Music Festival is what it does for children. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that donates money and musical instruments to schools. At the festival, they have areas set aside for young people and people who are young at heart.
There is an entire area named Kids Interactive. In that section, they offer face painting, recycled tunes, where people can play instruments made from old parts and a place for children to dance and play with hula hoops.
Not content with just having activities for children, Gasparilla Music Festival books them to perform.
One of the first singers this year is JudyAnne Jackson. She is a 10-year-old country singer from the Tampa Bay area. Her set consists of just her singing with either her guitar or her ukulele.
She sings some cover songs like Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” and Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” Jackson also performs original music. One of the songs was written just three weeks before the festival.
Jackson started playing the piano when she was 5 and bought her first guitar with allowance money when she was 8. She says she loves playing music because it makes her feel good and recently had the opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden.
Another group at the festival is Little Kids Rock. It is a class, much like School of Rock, where the children play all the instruments and sing everything. Some of the people in the current group don’t look like they are big enough to even hold their instruments, but they hold their own.
For a chance to support local, young and talented musicians, go to the Gasparilla Music Festival next year.