Blues Hall of Fame inductee for 2016, Wendy Rich, center, and the Soulshakers, a five-piece band, were the headliners who closed out the 10-hour festival that ran from 1:30 to 10 p.m., with their flavor of music. Nine women-led acts treated the crowd to a wide range of musical styles and instruments ranging from guitars and ukuleles to saxophones.
aturday, October 15 marked the inaugural Gulfport Peace, Love & Women Music Festival at the Gulfport Casino by local producers Lynn DiVenuti and Amy Oatley, co-owners of Business Brainstormers, an event sponsor.
During the 10-hour event, they wanted to “chip away at that ‘glass ceiling’ that prevents women musicians [from having] the same exposure permitted to men in the entertainment and music industry,” said DiVenuti. “We wanted to offer some of Tampa Bay’s A-list of women performers a venue that would bring attention to their talent and dedication.”
The organizers also created a compilation music CD featuring most of the 10 originally scheduled performers. Portions of the proceeds from the festival will support two area charities: CASA and the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund. The city of Gulfport was also a sponsor for the event.
The third of ten acts, Emilia Mele, rocked the Historic Gulfport Casino for two back-to-back sets when it was learned, at the last minute, that Rebekah Pulley would not be able to perform due to illness. Mele never missed a beat as she went off her prepared list of songs and played some of her cover favorites while taking requests from the audience during the second set. She even coaxed the crowd into several sing-along moments.