Tuesday night I covered the 2009 OUT Music Awards at Webster Hall in NYC for my good friends at OurSceneTV.com. I live tweeted from the event, and submitted a write-up summary of the event. All in all, very cool event produced by OUTMusic LGBT Recording Academy, whose mission is to ensure that underrepresented Out artists and entertainers have equal and inclusive presence in the mainstream entertainment industry. So, I was there to cover the red carpet, pre-show reception and main event.
I had a blast hanging with Blake, the guy who was also covering the event for OurSceneTV but in front of the camera. These underrepresented artists had NO problem working the room, waiting patiently to get their name and work in front of cameras. It definitely underscores the value of OUTMusic’s mission and need for its cause. For me, it was a cool experience to mingle with artists I had never even heard of before the event.
Artists who excited me: My heart belongs to a gorgeous young Finnish artist named Janita (now residing in Brooklyn). Listening to her CD now, I’m intrigued with her alt-soul-bluesy-rock style, silky smooth voice, and chill beat. She wore the best hat at the show too, btw, designed by Tom Scott, she told me. Check out her MySpace page for a preview! Her new album, “Haunted,” drops in 2010, and she says she’s performing in New York in January. I can’t wait!
Another one who caught my ear was an R&B crooner named Nhojj, who performed his gorgeous R&B/soul nominated song, “Love.” Wow. Really amazing voice, great stage presence, even behind a keyboard, beautiful dread locks. What else do you want from a budding R&B sensation? Check him out on MySpace and soak up his sounds. Nice.
Last but not least, I was really excited to see Toshi Reagon perform, and be honored with OUTMusic’s Heritage Award. I was first introduced to Toshi waaaaaaay back in 1997 when I worked for the Arts Festival of Atlanta, a 75-year-0ld contemporary arts festival (sadly, now defunct). To this day, her songs “Real Love,” “Happy and Satisfied” and “Like It That Way” are still in heavy rotation on my iPod. Tuesday night, she played one of her more recent recordings and I really was blown away. She’s an inspiring artist. Not to judge a book by its cover, but when you see her, you expect to hear a gruffer vocal, perhaps like a Tracy Chapman. But her voice truly is as sweet as honey. Maybe that’s because she’s the daughter of the great Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Nonetheless, I’m fortunate to have finally heard Toshi perform live. If you ever have the chance, don’t miss her. She’s great.
I could go on and on about the artists I met, so I’ll summarize some of the others who caught my ear. First, there was show opener, Christine Martucci, who performed her anthem, “There You Are.” Melissa Etheridge had better watch out! This girl means business and has the pipes to back it up. Also loved Kristi Martel who performed “Photophobia” on keyboards with a trio of strings. Nice! Plus, I can’t forget the quirky, retro Rachael Sage, and the sassy, brassy Athena Reich — both ladies sharing the lead in number of nominations with five. They’re like the Beyonce’s of the OUTMusic Awards!
The last highlight I’ll share was a really cool medley of R&B/Hip Hop songs by Tori Fixx, J.R., Mack Mistress and Jasper James + more. It’s no secret this mainstream genre is tough to crack for an Out LBGT artist, so it was really refreshing to hear gay themes in this kind of music. Songs cobbled together in their Gay Hip-Hop Evolution set definitely touched on gay themes, but you’d likely not hear these on the radio… at least, not yet!
Thanks to OurSceneTV.com for inviting me to cover this important event. And despite the “technical difficulties” the poor production crew had to suffer, it’s the music and the talent of all the artists that transcended the evening and made it really special.