Kelley Hunt has long been an advocate for hunger relief and the organizations that provide food and meals to people and families in need. On Friday night at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Hunt, a singer/songwriter and Lawrence resident, will headline the second annual Dance of Hearts, a benefit for Just Food, a food bank in Douglas County.
Hunt talked to The Star this week about the benefit and the importance of organizations like Just Food.
Q: What inspired you to start this annual benefit?
A: Hunger relief is something I feel strongly about, and it’s also a way that I think I can mobilize the entire community to make a difference in a really important issue. It’s intentionally scheduled around Valentine’s Day because it allows us to make the point to people that it’s important to spread the love.
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Q: Talk about Just Food and what it does for Douglas County.
A: The stats that Elizabeth Keever, director of Just Food, told us were stunning. On any given day, 19,000 people in Douglas County are at risk of going hungry. Thirty percent of kids in the USD 497 (Lawrence Unified School District) are on free or reduced lunch.
But Just Food is great, which is why I support them. They can provide five meals for every dollar. Last year, they distributed over 1 million pounds of food and served tens of thousands of families and gave cooking and meal-planning classes that help people learn how to do nutritional meals on a tight budget.
Q: What will the show be like?
A: This is going to be a throw-down. It’s the nine-piece version of my touring band. We’re flying the guys in from Chicago and Nashville, adding the Fat Brass Horns and the Mighty Kel-Tones, my background singers, and the material I’ve chosen to perform includes things from my catalog and some new stuff that talks about love from all angles. And, yes, there are some new things that definitely comment on current times.
Maria the Mexican is going to do an opening set, and we’re putting together a fun collaboration just for this show.
Q: Tell us about music projects you’re working on or have planned for 2017.
We’re planning a new record of my material, and I’m also going to have three guest-artist tracks on a really intriguing release produced by Duke Robillard of music of the ’20s and ’30s. Really fun stuff, terrific, authentic horn arrangements of the period played by A-list New York guys.
The other guest artists on the project include Madeline Peyroux, Maria Muldaur, Catherine Russell and actress/singer/songwriter Elizabeth McGovern. They’re telling us that they’re expecting a fall 2017 street date and that they’re going to want some of us to do some touring behind this. So, no rest for the wicked.
The second annual Dance of Hearts starts at 8 p.m. Friday at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. Kelley Hunt and her band will perform. Maria the Mexican is also on the bill.
Tickets are $15 to $35. Donations of nonperishable food items or an extra cash donation can be redeemed with a coupon for $5 off Kelley Hunt merchandise. All proceeds go to Just Food, a Douglas County food bank.