Gulf Coast Music Festival will benefit veterans


The first Gulf Coast Music Festival on the east lawn of Beauvoir, 2244 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday will benefit homeless veterans.

The talent offered at the festival will be a family-friendly mix of soul, rap, gospel, rock and country by acts from across the Southeast.

One of the performers is Melvin Morris, an artist based in Valdosta, Ga. Morris' first album, "Country Soul" includes his original songs alongside his version of classics such as "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Rainy Night in Georgia."

Local talent will include blues singer Amara Marie Bailey of Ocean Springs and D'Iberville musician Jus Tru. Other area musicians are Robert "The Duke" Tillman, gospel singer Chauncy Bolden, gospel singers T&J, inspirational rap acts Icy and Saint Reggie Williams, rock group My Pet Goat, country act Honky Tonk Memories Country Band, blues singer Jessie Love, and blues singer Charlie Rogers.

George E. Davis of McComb, who also will perform, gathered the show's talent, all of whom he said are volunteering for the cause. Davis is a producer and owner of Icy/II Kold Productionz. He also is donating his time, talent and connections to help make the benefit a success.

He said he sees homelessness regularly in his day-to-day routines -- people outside convenience stores, living in the woods and even at one of his favorite fishing holes. He said he feels a connection with the homeless veterans he meets, because his father was in the military.

"I know what it felt like when he went to war, and I look at it like that could have been my dad," he said.

Because he feels so strongly about the cause, he said he feels honored to be part of the first-time event.

"Being a part of this is more of an honor than a job. It's something I hope more of the public will get involved in and make a difference," he said.

Clarence Thompson, event organizer, said the money raised will benefit the TNT Ranch Recovery Home. The former horse ranch in Gulfport was converted to a place for veterans to recover from addictions and mental illness. Owner Tony Stapleton created recovery site when he saw how post-war stress affected his brother.

Admission is free. Donations will be accepted. Vendors will offer food, drinks and crafts.

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