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Inside opening weekend at Philly’s Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship

At the IHHE's inaugural session | photo by John Morrison for WXPN
At the IHHE’s inaugural session | photo by John Morrison for WXPN

Early Sunday morning, two dozen young creatives and aspiring entrepreneurs are gathered at Center City’s Pipeline coworking space, with a 15th floor view from the Graham Building overlooking a clear and crisp view of the Philly skyline.

At a glance, the room is like any other working space: boxes of coffee and bagels, half empty plastic bottles of water placed throughout the room, folks typing away at their Macbooks. But the energy is different today.

The facilitators of today’s session —  poet Erica Hawthorne-Manon and Dr. Bruce Campbell Jr. (aka DJ Junior) — are speaking to the group, which ranges in age from 19 to about 35, about the fundamentals of listening and conversing with others in a business / networking environment. The conversation is loose but intentional, the questions and observations coming from the group are probing and insightful.

This session marks the end of the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship’s inaugural weekend. A recipient of The Knight Foundation’s Cities Change grant, IHHE is a unique business school for creative entrepreneurs of the hip-hop generation. Over the course of a nine month period, the program will include a series of lectures, projects as well as Q&As with artists as well as music and business luminaries across disciplines. Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: Zeek Burse and Paralee Knight

Zeek Burse and Paralee Knight | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com
Zeek Burse and Paralee Knight | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

Singer, songwriter and music producer Zeek Burse has been on a musical sojourn for the past three years in Philly. When a chance meeting with one of Philly’s greatest R&B vocalists got Burse involved with The Boom Room Studio’s “Music Church,” Burse had an opportunity with drummer and producer Gary Dann’s music collective Worldtown Soundsystem to show off the talent that he’d developed from a young age almost exclusively under the influence of American Deep South gospel — most recently resulting in WorldTown’s electric debut single “Testify,” featuring Burse on lead vocals.

Since then, however, and along with songwriting companion Paralee Knight, Burse’s influences have diversified and evolved. At the top of 2016, expect to find the charismatic soul singer playing dates around Philly with Worldtown, at his new music residency at Relish, and dropping a new EP on February 22nd. The recording project — titled 22 — seeks to focus on and specifically feature the various musical styles that Burse has developed, the eclectic influences with which some time spent evolving as a Philadelphia artist have informed his style. Continue reading →

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Philly hip-hop vet Spade-O talks about the history of the scene with DJ Circuitbreaka

Spade-O | Photo by D. McDowell | via Philly 360
Spade-O | Photo by D. McDowell | via Philly 360

This past week on MyRadioPhilly, DJ Circuitbreaka brought scene veteran Spade-O of Major Figgas on the show to talk about his journey as one of Philadelphia most respected hip hop artists. During the interview Spade-O touched on a plethora of topics: reminiscing about the epic cyphers between Philly his crew and Beanie Sigel’s State Proterty, calling their battles historic and based more in respect than serious rivalry. Continue reading →

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Mentor, educator and musician Lovett Hines to be honored tonight at Painted Bride, perform Monday at Clef Club

Hines2
Lovett Hines | via Philly Jazz

A few hours after we spoke on Wednesday night, Lovett Hines was planning to be on a plane from snow-covered Philadelphia to the balmier climes of Miami. But unlike many 70-year-olds, Hines had no intention of making a one-way migration to Florida. After three days at a retreat with other recipients of the Knight Foundation’s BMe Leadership Award, he’ll be right back at Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts on Monday, where he’s been guiding Philly’s young, aspiring jazz musicians for the last twenty years.

While he’s away reaping the benefits of one award, he’ll be receiving another in absentia. At the Painted Bride tonight, Hines will become the fourth recipient of Jazz Bridge’s “Making a Difference” award at a fundraiser for the local nonprofit organization headlined by an all-star band led by bassist Dylan Taylor. Hines will accept via a video produced by Jason Fifield.

“Lovett is an icon,” says Suzanne Cloud, executive director and co-founder of Jazz Bridge, which aids local jazz and blues musicians in times of crisis. “He’s the uber-mentor. He’s the teacher to Philly’s young lions and lionesses. He has brought kids through the fire of music education and really mentored a lot of heavyweights.”

Asked for his reaction to the award, Hines laughed in typically self-effacing fashion. “It’s so funny to receive an award for something I love doing,” he says. “It’s almost like getting an award for having fun. But I’m so happy that this is coming from an organization that’s dedicated to musicians.”

No one has been more dedicated to musicians in Philly than Lovett Hines. Through two decades at the Clef Club and prior to that at Settlement Music School, he has mentored some of the most high-profile jazz artists to have emerged from Philadelphia during that time, most notably bassist Christian McBride, organist Joey DeFrancesco, saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, and drummer Justin Faulkner.

Hines started out as a piano prodigy before turning his focus to education, and credits his own love for music for his successes with students. “I had a passion for jazz,” Hines explains, “and my idea was to make sure that my young people felt that same passion. I gave the students freedom to create their own voice and let them know that I was there to encourage them, wherever they went. I always tell people that when students come to me, they become my children.” Continue reading →