SOUTH TAMPA — On Saturday, founder Franklin Hills Jr. hopes the many months of rehearsing with the contestants, time invested in creating an original song, and all the behind-the-scenes hard work that goes into producing a talent competition, a benefit for his new nonprofit Operation Hope of Tampa Bay, is met with standing-room-only attendance.
Operation Hope of Tampa Bay will mentor underserviced youths throughout Tampa Bay and feed deserving families throughout the year with its “Feed Those in Need Initiative.”
Tampa’s Star Showcase will be the culmination to bring Operation Hope to reality.
After putting out a call for auditions, dozens of candidates, from grade school to senior citizens, were whittled down to the top 12 that will be appearing in the talent competition benefit.
Starring competing vocalists Cynthia Bailey, Caitlin Mobley, Kimberly LaShawn Fulton, Suave Love, Brittani A. Williams, Diania Ortiz, Drake Plantz, rapper Moonie Louve, band Constant, dancers Dynamic Trio, musician Chris Cava, and comedian Sharon Nolan, Operation Hope’s Tampa Star Showcase is sure to have a performance that everyone can enjoy.
And Hills hopes the audience will vote.
These 12 local performers will take to the stage at Centro Asturiano de Tampa to compete for a first prize of $1,000, second prize of $500, and third of $200, as well as additional promotional prizes.
It’s the audience vote along with the judges that will earn three contestants the coveted first-, second- and third-place titles.
Featured in the showcase is a tribute to Michael Jackson, written by Hills. Pending the success of the inaugural showcase, each year it will pay tribute to a particular musical artist.
“The track ‘We Love You Michael’ was written to express my sincere admiration for the man and artist Mr. Michael J. Jackson,” said Hills. “His musical artistry is unparalleled to date. It is arguably said that he is the greatest entertainer that ever lived. Michael has been a great musical inspiration for me as an artist, so this project has been a wonderful and exciting experience.”
In producing the song, Hills had Prince’s principal drummer play drums on the track.
“To have Mr. (John) Blackwell play on this track is simply phenomenal. My goal in producing this was to create a song that has a strong rhythm, a song that has strong lyrics and a song that you can feel,” he explained. “I believe I met my goal.”
Hills stressed the event was family-friendly and invited families to vote together for their favorite contestant.
“We are hoping people come out, support the show, and vote for their favorite artist, as the audience participates in the judging. This event can only be successful as we make it,” he said. “As the producer, it is my sincere hope that Tampa comes out and supports Operation Hope’s Tampa’s Star Showcase.”
Operation Hope’s Tampa’s Star Showcase is Saturday, 7-10 p.m. at the Centro Asturiano de Tampa, 1913 North Nebraska Ave., in Tampa. Additional information, performer bios and early bird tickets are available online at www.tampastarshowcase .com. Tickets are $12 early bird, $14 regular and $18 at door. Sponsorship opportunities are available by calling (813) 693-1772 or visiting the website.