Like many artists in town, Ken Stacey is one busy guy. But in addition to promoting his career, perfecting his art and paying his rent, Stacey is also finding the time to work for a cause he believes in.
He’s currently producing the weekly “Truth Unplugged” programs for the Theatre of Hope for Abused Women on Sunday afternoons at the Bitter Truth Theatre in the NoHo Arts District.
The shows feature storytelling, spoken-word performances and acoustic music in a variety of styles. Playwright-performer Allyson Adams performs her own pieces each week, incorporating spoken word and movement. And musical performers over the course of the show’s run will include Hollye Dexter, Joy Bonner and the Acoustic Gurus, Heather Sullivan, Valerie Winters and Stacey himself.
Proceeds from the show benefit the theater’s various activities supporting women. Theatre of Hope is a nonprofit community outreach program with the American Renegade Theatre company.
Although it’s called the Theatre of Hope for Abused Women, Stacey said it goes beyond gender.
“It’s not just about women, it’s also about men and families,” he said. “It’s about every aspect of recovery from an abusive environment.
“It’s a very positive thing; it’s a way for me to give back to the community,” Stacey said. He first got involved with THAW last year when he wrote a song, “Shelter,” for a benefit show the group did at the Alex Theater.
Stacey, a New Mexico native, grew up in the Valley, graduated from Birmingham High and went to Cal State Northridge, where he majored in psychology and economics. Somewhere along the line, someone told him he was a good singer, a comment that changed his life. That someone was right; Stacey definitely has the vocal chops.
Not too long ago, Stacey was at Cafe Cordiale in Sherman Oaks, where he was performing with the band the Fifth Travis.
Besides singing in local clubs and doing session work as a background singer, he shops his own original material to labels.
“I’m a blue-eyed R & B soul singer,” Stacey said. “I’ve been turned down by every major label--me and the Beatles.”
Just as the Fab Four’s sound (and luck) eventually changed, so might Stacey’s.
He’s currently working on a recording project with veteran R & B producer Kashif, who has previously worked with Kenny G, Whitney Houston, George Benson and others.
You can hear Stacey sing one of his own songs, “May Peace Prevail,” during the closing credits of the current children’s film release “Warriors of Virtue.” His music was also featured in the Hulk Hogan vehicle “Secret Agent Club.”
To make ends meet, Stacey has taught singing for the last six years at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. So I asked him what he thought was the most important lesson aspiring singers could learn.
“To accept themselves,” he said without hesitation. “It’s hard for people to accept who and what they are.”
“You don’t have to have 3 million notes [in your vocal range], but you have to be able to put your soul into whatever notes you do have.”
* “Truth Unplugged” at 2 p.m. Sundays at the Bitter Truth Theatre, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Ends June 29. $5. (818) 766-9702.
Singer-songwriter Leslie Knauer--formerly of the all-girl glam metal band Precious Metal and the all-girl alternative rock band the Roving Godivas--now has a new name, a new drummer and a new demo.
Knauer, former Godivas bassist Mary Kay and new drummer Tony Matteucci are now Kanary. And they’re performing this weekend at the NoHo Performing Arts Festival.
The new three-song demo featuring “I Can’t Even Think About Getting Married,” “Do You Swear” and “Retarded” has Knauer out front with her colorful vocals and her rather offbeat sense of humor. This is not a bad thing.
Knauer made the news a few years back when Precious Metal somehow enticed mogul Donald Trump to appear in the video for its metal cover of the 1970s R & B hit “Mister Big Stuff.” The big news was made afterward when Trump and the band’s managers had a disagreement over--what else?--money.
“It was a blast actually,” Knauer says now. “I went to New York and made a video.”
Last year, Knauer was holding down three jobs and shopping her Roving Godivas demo. This year, she also has a new way of making ends meet.
“I’ve made a decision to make my whole life more creative, so I decided to create clothes,” she said. “It’s scary to be creative, to put it out there. But I wanted to be honest with myself, to keep my sandbox clean.”
Can’t argue with that.
* Kanary performs at 2 p.m. Saturday at the NoHo Performing Arts Festival.