Sophie B. Hawkins to headline Pussycat Festival

The Saturday fundraiser benefits the Gulf Shore Animal League

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins, known for her early ‘90s chart-toppers “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and “As I Lay Me Down,” will headline the inaugural Pussycat Festival in Bradenton this Sat., Nov. 9.

The event is a fundraiser for the Gulf Shore Animal League (GSAL), an all-volunteer nonprofit group that provides services for feral and free-roaming cats throughout Manatee County. The organization also rescues infant and ill kittens, and nurses them back to health before finding them a home.

“I’m so excited about it,” Hawkins said. “It’s such a great lineup of artists and for a good cause ... They’re giving me a big space to play. I’m going to get out there and play until they shut us down.”

Hawkins is also no stranger to activism, supporting everything from LGBT rights (the self-proclaimed “omnisexual” has long been linked romantically to her friend and manager Gigi Gaston), to women’s rights and the environment.

Following the BP oil spill in 2010, Hawkins headed to the Gulf Coast to help with clean-up efforts. She also donated 100 percent of the proceeds from her single “The Land, the Sea, and the Sky” to Waterkeeper Alliance, an organization of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect more than 100,000 miles of rivers, streams and coastlines around the world.

“I always do activism for the sea,” she said, adding “Just like we have to take care of each other, we all have to take care of the environment. The disconnection from that idea is so false.”

And the longtime vegan is an especially avid supporter of animal rights. “To me, as humans, I feel like we’re the aliens and I feel that it’s not so much that we learn from animals, there’s just something very natural to be a human being around nature,” she said. “The bullshit just disappears.”

Fans can expect Hawkins to reach deep into her musical repertoire during her Pussycat Festival set, from her first album, 1992’s Tongues and Tails, to her most recent release, 2012’s The Crossing, and even material from her turn starring as the iconic singer Janis Joplin on stage in Room 105. “I loved being Janis,” she said. “It was wild. I was so surprised they asked me to do it. Our voices sound so different. … She was a classically opera singer.”

Hawkins was even able to sneak a few of her own songs into the musical. “I wrote some demos as Janis in my hotel,” she said. “I was really channeling her. My musicians thought they were originals.”

Armed with a collection of new material, Hawkins plans to record a live album while on tour this spring. She’s also keeping busy with a variety of other artistic endeavors: two musicals (one completed but in the midst of the long process to being made; the other she’s just starting to write), a novel and her painting. “It’s all the same process as songwriting, just using different techniques and mediums,” she said.

The Pussycat Festival takes place Saturday, Nov. 9, 4 to 10 p.m., at the Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar, 801 E. Riverside Dr., Bradenton. Headliner Sophie B. Hawkins will share the stage with Diane Ward, “The Voice” alumni Beverly McClellan, Twinkle Schascle Yochim, former “American Idol” contestant Melissa McGhee and Passerine. Tickets are $20. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit www.gsalinc.org.

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