Urban Music Festival: Old School and New Beginnings

Photo by Tess Cagle.
This past weekend, the Urban Music Festival decided to help us remember “tha nu ol’ school 90s” with a festival jam packed with talent that we could never forget.

Artists such as En Vogue, Dave Hollister, Zapp, and Johnny Gill graced the stage at Auditorium Shores in style and sung all of our favorites. From En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” to Zapp’s “Doo Wa Ditty,” the crowd couldn’t help but dance and sing along.

The Urban Music Festival is in its 13th year of bringing Austin quality R&B music in an outdoor festival environment and it continues to be a change agent in the Austin music community.

En Vogue was clearly a showstopper at the festival.

The Soultree Collective, a nonprofit organization, was formed to support the efforts of the Urban Music Festival and provide opportunities for amateur musicians and singers to improve their skills. When talking to parent Angelic Smith-Phillips, she praised the program for teaching youth about good music from artists that came before them. Many of the Soultree Collective participants weren’t even born when artists like En Vogue hit the music scene. The beauty of the program is that it helps continue the legacy of quality R&B music by teaching our youth to learn and perform the music of these old school artists.

En Vogue was clearly a showstopper at the festival. The last time they were in Austin was in the early 90s. They truly gave us something we could feel with their new radio single Rocket from the upcoming release Electric Café. These Funky Divas have already topped the billboards and sold millions of records.

Terry Ellis, founding En Vogue member, described the changes they’ve experienced over the years as “just life and evolution.” Their continued success and past setbacks can be described as something necessary for making them who they are today. They also share our sentiments towards the recent Austin bombings and are outraged to see this type of hate affecting the community.

It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live.

These ladies sent their condolences to the family and friends of Draylon Mason, the Soultree Collective bass player, who lost his life during the Austin Serial Bombings. Festival goers all joined together to pay tribute to this young man and to acknowledge what program is doing in the lives of our youth.

Nina Simone once said that “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live.” We are living in a time when the color of your skin affects labels and perceptions in the media. There are movements that quickly die when they are supported by diluted truths. Music is an art form that can move the masses to take action as history has shown us many times. Let’s continue to support the efforts of Soultree Collective and Urban Music Festival as they remind us that we can produce great music if we do not forget our history.


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