Urban Music Fest
Torch: Before becoming Urban Music Fest, the concert was known as Black Music Fest and was solely a Haraya event. How long has the concert been a part of Haraya’s tradition and how did it start?
P.A.: Haraya’s Black Music Fest is a 7-year-old tradition. The first [concert] was held in 1999 with Dougie Fresh, selling over 1,000 tickets [for] what was once known as Alumni Hall. Haraya has set the precedent being the sole organization to throw a large-scale concert on campus.
Torch: What was the turnout for Urban Music Fest and how does it compare to the attendance of concerts in years past? What do you think caused this change?
P.A.: There were over 1,500 people in Carnesecca for this concert. As compared to past years, Haraya’s concert this year blew attendance out of the water!!! Last year’s concert only had 800 people so it’s about a [700-person] difference. This year’s e-board revived the concert to what it used to be seven years ago.
Torch: What stands out in your mind as the one thing that made Urban Music Fest a success? Looking back, is there anything you would have changed about the event?
P.A.: What made “URBAN MUSIC FEST” what it was is that we finally listened to what our constituents of Haraya wanted. They wanted Elephant Man, so we got him. He was groundbreaking. The students loved him. The only thing I would change is if the name remained Black Music Fest.
Torch: What kind of preparation went into the event and how much man-power was needed to carry out the plans?
P.A.: There was extensive planning that went into this concert with Haraya. [From] getting security to approve artists to getting contracts and riders satisfied. It all started in December and the final product came into play on Friday.
[As for] how much man power we had, I’ll give you the names: Patricia Ambroise, Jodi Cox, Nashia Whittenburg, Patrick Ambroise, Jermaine Cole, Kyshia McIntyre, Leticia Colon, James Belabre, Cassey Burrell, Emmanuel Mensah, Rachel Constant, James Legerme, Jennifer Forilien, Kiffa Braithwaite, Lucinda Fleury, Andrew Ashe, and ALL AND ONLY HARAYA!!!
Torch: Some students at the concert were still referring to the show as Black Music Fest. How did you, and Haraya, feel about the change in name and the change in sponsorship, with Campus Activities’ concert committee being a main sponsor? Do you think changing it from Black Music Fest to Urban Music Fest helped and/or hurt the event? How so?
P.A.: Haraya did not like the name change initially BECAUSE WE WOULD LOSE THE FLAVOR OF THE CONCERT, but through advisement we gave the name change a chance even though we were getting backlash from past e-board members and many students, even those that are not of Pan-African descent.
We felt if we can make the students happy by giving then what they want, then so be it!
But here is where it got a little tricky! Although we had a fabulous show, in my opinion, it was a struggle to get there.
I’m not going to get into all of what happened because it will take away from the glory of the success of the concert, but I’ll say this: if it was supposed to be a co-sponsorship, why did Haraya spend the majority of the existing budget, $40,000 for the concert but the concert committee spent zilch!!!! And by no means is this an attack on the concert committee because there was a meeting about it, but a co-sponsorship is a monetary and planning contribution to an event, hence the name change to URBAN MUSIC FEST. But if nothing is contributed, what is the point?
In my eyes, I’m glad students were still calling it BLACK MUSIC FEST because it was solely sponsored by HARAYA and no one else. Even though the concert committee was on every publication there was when we thought they were going to contribute, it was felt “why put money into a car you know is going to break down” someone said to the Haraya e-board! That was when it became apparent the concert committee didn’t want to contribute in that capacity, so we x-ed them out!
All I have to say is that the broken car that person was referring to made 1,500 people go crazy in Carnesecca Arena and Haraya to bring in a revenue of over $12,000 and counting. That’s what we like to call BLACK MUSIC FEST!
P.S. – To Chris Hurlburt of The Torch, I’ll answer your question. Who is Elephant Man? Apparently someone who can bring 1,500 people to a concert and knock their socks off! (This post script is in reference to an article entitled “SJU Concert: Right idea, Wrong artists” written by Christopher Hurlburt and published in the April 5 edition of The Torch.)