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By : Poetic Pattie

7 min read

Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Festival is one of the fastest growing cultural movements that is amplifying black empowerment and creative freedom. It began as a dream for Catherine T. Morris who experienced an inclusive celebration of black history during her undergraduate in Philadelphia. “After graduating, Ms. Morris returned to her hometown of Boston to learn that there was not a large-scale festival that celebrated, included or elevated Black artists and their creative capital.” With the support of local artists, Ms. Morris took it upon herself to create what we now know as one of the best celebrations of black art & music. To kick off the soul packed weekend, Berklee College of Music hosted a one-day “ultimate super connector conference that brings together creators, industry leaders, and movers and shakers who shape, influence and amplify Black artistry, Black business, and imagination across Greater Boston and beyond!” From the moment the conference began there were gems of knowledge being shared from prominent movers and shakers within the music business. The keynote speakers deeply focused on the intersection of arts and culture, diversity/equity/inclusion, workforce development, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and social impact. Those topics and skills alone can make or break you in this industry but, with the right guidance and support system you could end up exactly where you want to be.

During one of the sessions titled ‘Queendom’, Maimouna "Mumu Fresh" Youssef, Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and activist, spoke on building a healthy and safe environment by creating the right energy with sound healing and spirituality. Mumu Fresh has always been a go-getter and never lets barriers stop her from getting to the main goal. Beginning early in her career she reminisced on knocking on doors for opportunities and vibing out in her community at open mics. Mumu also mentioned the hardships she faced and the common bumps in the road that many black women in the music industry face. The following session titled ‘Getting To The Mic’ was moderated by Jazzmyn RED, MC, singer, poet, and hip hop activist who led this conversation with 2 record label executives—Ryan Haslam and Sammye-Ruth Scott. Ryan is a senior talent relations director at United masters who firmly believes that Google is your best friend, and to make it far: simply work hard—there is no cutting corners. When asked about the best way to approach record labels in regards to sending music—or anything for that matter, A&R Sammye Ruth Scott from Atlantic record said that DM is not her go to but emailing is always the favorable method. “Don’t step on toes and don’t cut corners—do the work. Network and do your research, that is the best way to get opportunities, don't just wait for handouts. Being a fly on the wall is cool but you need to grow from that. OG’s are full of knowledge but work your way up. Don’t only respect the CEO–respect their village and work your way up.” Nadine El Roubi, Sudanese singer, songwriter, and rapper, asked the executives for some of their best techniques on branding yourself as an artist. They said when it comes to branding yourself record labels want to make sure you bring leverage and show a different facet of who you are—because the music is only a fraction. How are your fans interacting and engaging when your music isn’t coming out? And how are you as a creator keeping that connection with your fan base? These notable speakers set the tone at the conference and exuded unity, professionalism & resilience—a bit of what we all shared together at BAMS fest.

–Poetic Pattie

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #159 July 2023


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