It's not every day that guitar strings and bikini strings come together for such a noble cause: On June 23, the House of Blues is hosting the third annual Rock to Stop Violence concert and fashion show.
The artistic extravaganza aims to shed light on the horrors of domestic abuse, rape, PTSD, gang violence and bullying, with proceeds from the event going to the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at the Rady Children's Hospital, where victims of violence can receive mental and physical support.
Rock to Stop Violence CEO and founder Michelle Renee is a music and motorcycle-loving mom with a very personal connection to the nonprofit's cause. At 35, Renee and her daughter Breea were held hostage for 14 hours by gunmen who attached explosives to the women's bodies and forced Renee to rob the bank she worked at. Having survived the nightmare and undergone post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapy at the Rady Children's Hospital, Renee is now an award-winning author, speaker, activist and entrepreneur. Her memoir, Held Hostage, was made into the 2009 Lifetime movie starring Dexter actress Julie Benz. In her work with Rock to Stop Violence, Renee combines her love for music with her commitment to standing up against violence.
At least one of the night's performers also has especially close ties to the Rock to Stop the Violence cause: Danielle LoPresti is a singer/songwriter whose socially charged lyrics speak to her own childhood experience with molestation. It was LoPresti's sister Angelique who urged her to write a song about the "unbearably uncomfortable" memory.
"It was the first time I wrote about being molested as a child," LoPresti said. "The song was called 'Say It,' which is now the name of my record company.... I had lost my voice. I couldn't speak. That theme affects everyone affected by sexual violence. We lose our voice -- our ability to speak. Music is such a powerful unifier, because it sweeps up all the things in life that obscure the light -- the truth. Nothing can be solved if we don't start talking about it."
"With Rock to Stop the Violence, I get to really get out there and be concrete in what I say," LoPresti added. "Let's do more than just talk about it; let's constantly keep this as part of the conversation so we can move toward change."
Along with the musical guests, the event fashion runway will display the bikini and dress designs of Britboy, Chelsea B, Kenneth Barlis and Parris Harris.
Event art auctions and fashion vendors will be contributing additional profits to the anti-violence cause.
Rock to Stop Violence starts at 7p.m. and is an all-ages event, but tickets are $25 for 21-plus and $20 for 21 and under. VIP tickets are $100 and include a special gift, pre-show mixer and after-party at the Hard Rock Hotel's rooftop club, Float.