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A Super Bowl paradise

Thirteen-year-old singer Kaci gets a big break: air time before the game.

[Times photo: Stafanie Boyar]
Seminole resident Kaci Lynn Battaglia, 13, shoots a video for her single Paradise in Centro Ybor in Tampa on Thursday while Peter Jarvis, left, holds a reflector. She performs the song in both English and Spanish. Pre-game show producer Bob Best, who was given a tape of the song by Kaci's grandfather, chose it because he thought it represented Tampa's latin flavor.

By BABITA PERSAUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2001


TAMPA -- She may be just 13, but Seminole's budding pop star Kaci Lynn Battaglia -- you can just call her Kaci -- knows what she wants in a music video.

With palm trees swaying in Thursday morning's cool breeze, she pointed to the lens with her French manicured nails, fluttered her pink, powdered eye shadowed eyes and swayed her small hips. Stick-on rhinestones formed a flower pattern around her naval.

"You want more energy? You want less energy?" she asked the cameraman.

"No," he said. "It's great."

You might not know who she is now but Kaci, who signed with Curb Records last year, is about to get the exposure of her life. At least that's what she's hoping.

Her song Paradise, a simple tale of puppy love, so hooked pregame show organizers that they will play it on the jumbo screen during Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 28.

It was a last-minute decision, said Bob Best, who has produced the pregame show for 17 years. And a fairy tale story at that.

Just a few weeks ago, Kaci's proud grandfather, Jack Butcher, former publisher of the Tampa Tribune, gave Best her single and video, shot by Curb on the Santa Monica Pier back in August.

Best popped the single into his car stereo and couldn't get the catchy tune out of his head. Paradise fit in perfectly with the pregame show's Central Florida theme, he said. And it was sung part in Spanish and part in English.

Making the song bilingual was Curb's idea, which wanted to change her sound from pop to Latin pop. (Kaci used to go by Kaci Lyn, but dropped Lyn because "it was too country," said her publicist, Liz Cavanaugh).

But Spanish was a language Kaci, who is home schooled, was only learning on her home computer. So Rudy Perez, who produced Christina Aguilera's Spanish CD, worked with Kaci. The words were written out phonetically so she could sing them.

Best thought the song captured Tampa's Latin flavor well. To further capture it, he reshot the video specifically for the Super Bowl.

So Kaci spent all day Thursday shooting the new video at Centro Ybor, on Seventh Avenue and in the Columbia Restaurant with flamenco dancers, playing to the camera in her zippered Dolce & Gabbana denim pantsuit.

"When I'm with you it's paradise," she sang to the camera. "No place on Earth can be so nice. Through a crystal water fall, I hear you call."

In between takes, her mother, Donna Stanmore, a former nurse, brushed her daughter's long, straight hair.

Her family jokes that Kaci was born crying to a beat. She sings in the shower, in the swimming pool and throughout the home. She even sings to her dogs.

This is not her first sporting event; Kaci already has sung the national anthem at a New York Yankees game.

Her parents "wanted me to be a veterinarian or a marine biologist. I said "No.' I want to be a singer," Kaci said.

Her three-minute video will include scenes of Central Florida, beaches and palm trees. Not all the pregame show is televised, but it's still great exposure to thousands of high-rolling fans at the game, said Jones, a show veteran.

Afterward he always gets calls, he said, "Who is that person? And where did you find her?"

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