St. Louis' 38th annual LGBTQIA+ PrideFest will be held June 23-25 downtown at Soldier's Memorial.


Alisan Porter
Sat. 6/24 6:00 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

AllisonPorter
Singer. Actress. Dancer. Child prodigy. Alisan Porter answers to all of these and the siren can't wait to attend her first PrideFest "and pop her cherry" right here in St. Louis.


"I plan to do a set of some Voice songs and some originals," she says of what fans can expect.


She's described as powerhouse singer with remarkable writing chops to match her soaring vocals. So it’s no surprise Los Angeles-based diva could sing with perfect pitch at nine-months-old. Born to parents from the Broadway and rock world, she went from dazzling America on Star Search at age five to the taking a starring turn in John Hughes 1991 classic Curly Sue. After high school, she hit the boards on Broadway, starring in the first production of Footloose and revival of A Chorus Line. She also fronted The Canyons and released two solo albums, namely 2009’s Alisan Porter and Who We Are in 2014.


During a 2016 musical hiatus, Alisan's friend secretly submitted her to NBC’s The Voice. She won Season 10 - making history on the show as the first victor for a female coach repping “Team Christina Aguilera.” Ever-committed to her personal vision, Alisan turned down a major label contract to follow her heart as an independent artist. Exercising the limits of her robust voice, she summoned a style steeped in booming gospel, soulful blues, and rock ‘n’ roll energy. Now, the first single “Deep Water” introduces Alisan’s next phase with her show-stopping vocals on full display. Her new independent EP I Come In Pieces drops this summer.


Alisan looks forward to spending time in St. Louis and experiencing PrideFest first-hand.


"Pride is standing strong for your worth and having an overwhelming sense of self. Being proud, spreading joy and supporting each other. That's what pride means to me," she says.


Blu Cantrell
Sun. 6/25 4:45 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

BluCantrell
R&B recording artist Blu Cantrell is excited to be making her PrideFest St. Louis debut, but she's not stranger to the Gateway City.


"St. Louis has always been one of my favorite cities to perform in and it's been too long since I’ve been back," says Blu. "I’ll be taking the fans back to the early 2000’s with my hits "Hit’em Up Style" and "Breathe"….and then we are going to sprinkle in a few fun covers songs for everyone to sing along too. I might even surprise everyone with a taste of one of my new songs I’m currently working on in the studio. It should be a fun day filled with lots of memories."


In the early 2000s, Cantrell began recording tracks for what would ultimately become her first full-length album. Upon hearing the cut "Till I'm Gone," L.A. Reid, the CEO and president of Arista Records, signed the diva.


"I have always performed for the gay community," Blu explains. "It’s been an important aspect of my career. The LBGT audience has been incredibly loyal, I am so grateful to have this community as fans."


Blu's "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" occupied the number two position on the Hot 100 list. The buzz was out and Cantrell was invited to perform on national television programs. Her full-length debut, 2001's So Blu, reached the Top 10 on the album charts. Her next record, 2003's Bittersweet earned Cantrell another Grammy nomination and a number one song in the UK with "Breathe".


"For me, Pride means Strength & Inclusiveness," says Blu. "It’s the positive stance against discrimination. It’s also a powerful incentive for us to promote self-affirmation and dignity, equality of rights for all people. It’s a time for us to celebrate diversity and the individuals' gender-identity freedom from persecution."


Brandon Stansell
Sun. 6/25 5:30 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

BrandonS
Brandon Stansell is a fresh face onto the Country Music scene, but has always been nearby; honing his craft and finding his voice. Slow Down, his latest EP released in the Fall 2016, is the epicenter of his "California Country” sound.


While his casual country sound is appealing, there is more that meets the eye with this out crooner of Nashville roots.


What do you have in store for PrideFest 2017 audiences in St. Louis?


We have an exciting set lined up! The show is all original music - mostly new material written for a record I am recording in July and as well as some older tunes from my EP, Slow Down, which was released last September. This will be my first headlining experience and I am thrilled to be making my debut at PrideFest!


When was your first Pride?


My first Pride was in New York City in 2011. I had just moved the city the winter before and I didn’t really know what to expect. I took the train down from Washington Heights and got out at Christopher Street. I spent the next 3 hours trying to cross Christopher Street… All of my friends and I were meeting at the Duplex to drink and watch the parade, but for most of day I was stone cold sober on the other side of the street. So, my first Pride was not an ideal experience, but I plan to spend every year making up for it!


What does Pride mean to you?


Every year Pride reminds me how much I love being gay. I think most of us spend our entire lives trying to find ourselves and feel comfortable in our own skin, but for me Pride has always been one of those rare occasions where it’s almost impossible to be inauthentic.


Chel
Sat. 6/24 5:00 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

Chel
The multi-faceted Chel is excited to return to St. Louis PrideFest and take the Main Stage for the first time.


"Pride 2016 was a blast and I have every intention of topping last years show," says the Springfield, Illinois native. "Get ready, I have a brand new unreleased single just for you."


An emerging pop artist, Chel currently resides in the Gateway City where she continues to write, record, and perform her unique style of pop music on a daily basis. By blending infectious pop lyrics with a broad spectrum of musical genres, Chel has managed to create a genre that is uniquely her own and Pride ready.


"My first Pride festival was about 4 years ago right here in St. Louis," she explains. "I absolutely loved my experience. I did rainbow eye makeup and then saw one of the best parades ever followed by an awesome performance MKTO. Who knew confetti could make you so happy?"


Chel finds it difficult to place her music and style into a specific genre. When asked about this, Chel replied, "I have been told that I have a very unique sound. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I do know that I hear myself differently than other artists. It's nice to believe that I stand out in some way."


Chel's EP - The Chel EP - was produced by legendary hip-hop producer Tech Supreme and released in 2014. It features five emotionally charged songs showcasing the diva's powerhouse vocals which she looks forward to sharing at PrideFest.


"Pride means accepting yourself and being prideful in who you are," says Chel of the weekend. "Pride means equality and believing that we are one. Pride means standing up for what is right. Most importantly, pride means Love. Self love, one love, equal love - it is a platform to love and be loved."


Jessica Sanchez
Sat. 6/24 7:40 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

JessicaSanchez
California native Jessica Sanchez is excited to hit the main stage at St. Louis PrideFest and plans to rock the Lou.


"Pride Festivals are full love, happiness, and lots of fun," says Sanchez. " I'm gonna give St. Louis a few high energy songs that we can all let loose and dance too. I'm gonna throw in a few covers because one of my favorite things in the whole world is to hear the crowd sing along. I'm excited to sing with the beautiful people of St. Louis."


A vocal stand-out since childhood, Sanchez competed on America's Got Talent at age 11 and was runner-up on Season 11 of American Idol. She rose to stardom by belting out soaring ballads by the likes of Etta James and Whitney Houston. In 2013, she released her debut album Me, You, and the Music and went #8 on the Billboard Pop Charts. The first single “Tonight” featuring Neyo has over 15 million views on YouTube.


Sanchez has also been a longtime supporter of Pride celebrations.


"I feel like it was so long ago, she explains. "I think is was in my hometown San Diego and honestly ever since I was young I've been such a big LGBT supporter. I'm always happy to participate and show my support!. All of the LGBT events that I've attended are full of positivity and good energy. Definitely one of my favorite crowds."


Many may remember Sanchez's anthem "Stronger Together" playing during the balloon drop at the Democratic National Convention after Hillary Clinton accepted the presidential nomination. Sanchez was proud of that. But Pride means so much more to her.


"Pride means a lot to me! It really inspires me seeing people truly being proud of who they are. I think it's such a beautiful and exciting thing for the world. Moving forward and spreading love and understand equality. I love Pride," she says.


Kat DeLuna
Sat. 6/24 8:30 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

KatDeluna
International pop sensation Kat DeLuna is looking forward to bringing her innovative, dance and rock-infused sound and operatic vocal range to St. Louis PrideFest for the first time, but it's hardly her first time at the rainbow rodeo.


"One of my first Pride shows ever was New York Pride," says DeLuna. "Imagine? NYC has one of the toughest crowds, and they are hard to please. But I really held it down that day and lit up the festival! From then on... I fell in love with Pride! I love the "you can do it all" vibe!"


The Dominican-American singer/songwriter and performer garnered International attention thanks to the success of 9 Lives’ “Whine Up,” which was crowned the top-selling single on iTunes Latino in 2007, reached #1 in France, and topped the charts in Africa and Europe . Once the single was certified gold, DeLuna made history as the first Dominican pop singer to cross over into the mainstream. Aside from her fans’ appreciation, DeLuna earned the respect of her peers, nabbing MTVtr3s’s Best New Artist Award and scoring a Billboard Latin Music Award for Best Club Play Track of the Year (for “Whine Up”).


DeLuna's soon to be released sophomore album Inside Out promises a more multi-dimensional, nuanced portrayal of herself as both artist and woman. Her unparalleled determination, more aggressive look, and dynamic sound are sure to give the up and coming diva formidable star power that can’t and won’t be eclipsed.


"It's easy for me to differentiate my American crowd from my overseas crowd... but I have to say that Pride crowds are very special," DeLuna explains. "Prides hold a lane of their own. The energy and the essence of thousands of people coming together to celebrate unity is amazing to me."


Laura Bell Bundy
Sun. 6/25 6:30 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

LauraBellBundyWindow
Laura Bell Bundy - or LBB - the self-proclaimed hot mess, will close out St. Louis PrideFest 2017 with a not-to-be-missed performance.


"I plan on doing a fun, wild country music/DJ set with my two amazing back-up singer/dancers," she explains. "It will include original music, covers and some funny songs too."


From Broadway to country music, Bundy has proven a double threat, and as always, remains the ever-ballsy, irreverent "Ambassador of Good Times."


"I did my first Gay Pride show in NYC in 1991 when I was 10 years old...," says Bundy. "I have always been a gay man trapped in the body of Jon Benet. It was wild and yet sort of normal for me.. All the men were either dressed very loudly in colorful drag or shirts off in leather biker gear as that was real on trend in the 90’s. Joel Big and I are friends to this day and he will be at my wedding in June."


With myriad hits to her name, including 'Giddy on Up,' the Achin' and Shakin' star looks forward to this year's Pride finale and celebrating with her legion of fans.


"Pride is about owning who you are, being true to yourself without exception and living out loud without fear," Bundy concludes. "It celebrates a community of people who have been brave to come out as they are, and stand together fully, loudly and with joy. It is also a reminder to those in the LGBT that they are not alone in the fight for their equal rights as human beings… and makes a statement to the world that this is a community of love that deserves those inalienable rights."


Next up, Bundy is set to star as Trixie in an all new Broadway musical version of The Honeymooners alongside Hank Azaria, Leslie Kritzer and Michael McGrath.


RUNAGROUND
Sat. 6/24 7:00 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

Runaground
From gaining YouTube popularity for popular, self-produced music video covers in 2012 to his upcoming EP, electronic musician RUNAGROUND certainly knows how to make a splash.


What do you have in store for PrideFest in St. Louis this summer?


I'm looking forward to playing some favorites and new songs for the Pride crowd.


You gained a lot of popularity from your YouTube videos, how do you think that has impacted your path to stardom?

 

YouTube has been an invaluable tool in launching RUNAGROUND. It's definitely carried my music to the corners of the earth, and opened doors for me in the mainstream realm as well. I'll always be grateful for a place like YouTube, to share my content directly with fans.


How does your writing process begin for your music? Where does most of your inspiration come from?


It could be anything really. I get little lines and phrases that pop into my mind in the car, or on a walk, or maybe sitting at a restaurant. My phone is full of one liners that become beautiful songs and I love writing that way. I saw a butterfly with the most beautiful artwork on its wings, about 6-8 months ago on a hike... and it became the inspiration and lyrics to a song i released called that very thing... "Butterfly".


What can we expect to see from you in the future? Are you currently working on anything?


I have a new radio single coming out very soon, and an EP following that. I hope to settle on the songs for that with the record label very soon, as we've been working on it for over 6 months since "Chase You Down" went #1.


What does Pride mean to RUNAGROUND?


To me it represents the beautiful evolution and expression of love in all forms and how we celebrate that love.


That 80s Band
Sun. 6/25 3:45 p.m.
MasterCard Entertainment Stage

That80Band
Let's face it, the 1980's were big - big hair, big shoulder pads and big, big entertainment. So embrace the Aqua Net era as That '80s Band brings their impressive repertoire to St. Louis PrideFest 2017.


"That 80s Band has a short set of some of the best pop/rock/dance songs of the 1980s from artists who helped shape one of the best decades in music," explains the band. "We’ll play songs from artists like Madonna, Whitney Houston, Joan Jett and Cyndi Lauper, as well as bands like Poison, Guns-n-Roses, and Def Leopard."


Featuring IzzyFurreel (guitar/vocals), Jon Dohnson (keys/vocals), Mick Fly (bass/vocals), Valerie Girl (vocals/guitar), and Rod Springfield (drums/electric things) the over-the-top cover band is no stranger to PrideFest.


"My first PrideFest/Parade experience was either in 1998 or ’99," offers Valerie Girl. "It was early on when the parade was still held on Arsenal St. and PrideFest was held in Tower Grove Park. I had a great time supporting my friends who were a part of the parade. I had a great day at the festival. PrideFest always has some of the best local and national entertainment around, so it is a privilege to be invited back to be a part of the entertainment lineup.


To quote The Riverfront Times in "Best of St. Louis" 2005: Hit 'em with your best shot -- 'cause they got the beat, and their shows will leave you hungry like the wolf and walking on sunshine.


"Based on my personal experience, Pride offers a sense of community, support, and belonging for individuals who are isolated from their family and/or community of origin and whose struggles are all too often marginalized by the community at large," says Valerie Girl. "Pride St. Louis has been an immense support to some of my closest friends over the years and I am grateful for its existence."

 

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