Spotlighting talent in the bay

BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The “Spotlight Series,” a showcase of spoken word, monologues, music and interpretive dance, was launched last Sun., Oct. 18 at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum.

The series had been a personal dream of its creator and producer, Andresia Moseley, also known as the RealShtz Poet. It was a dream born out of necessity due to the lack of opportunity in the Tampa Bay area for leading black performers.

“I want to show the community the professional talent base that is here and available,” Moseley said.

“The Spotlight Series” combines an eclectic mix of entertainment that hopefully will attract a diverse audience.

“I wanted to merge spoken word and theater together,” she explained. “People get bored and everybody does not like the same art form.  I wanted to provide variety to appeal to every type of art form and flavors.”

It was a tour de force of creative explosion, human emotion and boundless expression. Stacy Rush opened the show with the gut-wrenching song “I’m Changing” from the Broadway play “Dream Girls.” Her voice teased the notes as it ran majestically up and down the octaves.

Richard Girard’s spoken word performance on the effects of depression gave the audience an insight into the dark passages of the mental disorder, while professional actress Kimberley Webb gave a bubbly and humorous characterization of being a cub reporter interviewing the pope and poetess Mona Leza spoke on the disparity and inequality of reporting the news when the victims are black women.

Several other acts also performed in the lush tropical lure of the Legacy Gardens at the Woodson.

Moseley grew up in Polk County and graduated from the Lois Cowles Harrison School of the Performing Arts in Lakeland. After high school she obtained a B.A in psychology and minor in non-profit business administration from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.

A member of the National Thespian Society and the Tampa Bay Poetry Council, she and her siblings were raised by strict parents that closely monitored their television watching. “I watched a lot of PBS,” she laughed.

However, there was no lack of entertainment in Moseley’s young life. She was exposed to opera, the ballet and musicals featuring both black and white performers.

The theater is her first love and she has appeared in productions locally, New York, California and Oklahoma. However, it was the lack of leading roles that lead her to discover spoken word.

What she describes as “abbreviated monologues,” Moseley appreciates spoken word because she can perform without a structured stage presentation.

Her first spoken word piece was “Believe the Obvious” in 2009.  In that piece she describes a bad relationship. She finally had to accept the reality of the substance abusing person and the situation. “You shouldn’t fall for the fairytale when it’s not true; believe what’s right in front of you.”

Some of her other works have included “Fatherless,” a piece about growing up without a dad and how it effects your adult life. In “Attention” she speaks about not needing outside approval as a motivator.

Moseley explained that her creative process begins with a conflict; she then has an epiphany and finally puts pen to paper. Life is breathed into an actual spoken word piece.

She is hopeful that this production, which will only be produced bi-yearly, will jumpstart into other areas.  She envisions the establishment of a black local theater company and a possible play adaption of the series.

“I want this to be used as a conduit of art and artists of all types and colors,” Moseley finished.

The Spotlight Series Artists

• JA Alexander the Poet

• Frank Wells – Classical Pianist

• Nick McKinnon – Musician

• Jada S Bell – Dancer/Choreographer

• Michael Jo Mae – Professional Vocalist

• Stacy Rush – Professional Vocalist

• Joi Banks – Actress

• Sheree L. Greer – Writer

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