Singer Kayla Sheen by Quaint Revolt’s Sasha-Gay.
This past Sunday, I attended the Venus Music Showcase curated by Flockaland, which featured an all-female lineup. I spent the day finishing up assignments and preparing to cover the event in the most journalistic way. My recorder, camera, and a list of questions were in my possession, but upon arrival, it was clear that this show was not your average “go in and network” type of event, starting with the event space. Located in the heart of Edgewood – a sector of Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward district – the Department Store is artsy and rustic; street art and bountiful stickers decorate it and the surrounding buildings. While walking to the destination, sounds flowed through the streets like a musical gradient, where hobos and hipsters moved about like one of the same. This area is a hot-spot for creatives and foreshadowed what we were to expect from the night.
Inside, the vibe was one of relaxation and more about going with the flow. Being there would make you want to sit back, drink a potent cocktail, and let go of all inhibitions. The exposition focused on artistry – including a female visual artist who live painted throughout the night – and soaking in the musical talents of the women who performed. Rapper Suni MF Solomon set the tone for the evening with her conscious-esque lyrics and a naturalistic performance style. Her songs have a southern, alternative hip-hop approach reminiscent of Outkast and Goodie Mob, but she is no one’s copycat. Suni is in a lane of her own and has a refreshing take on rap music. She encouraged the audience to come closer, as in to connect intimately and make us feel her authenticity.
The next artist who won me over was an indie singer by the name Kayla Steen. She brought her band on stage and let her smooth, powerful vocals take the lead. When it comes to range, she has it. Kayla, like Suni, also had a spirited stage presence. She’s soulful with a retro feel and style of dress. She has that coffee shop, singer/songwriter goodness that deserves listening to.
The final performance I got to see was of Yungbaby Tate. Quaint Revolt was introduced to the multi-talented musician last year, and her unique flair was ever present again last night. Seeing Tate live is a testament to how much of a thorough, reliable performer she is. She ignites on stage like artists who’s selling millions of albums (as I’m sure she will) and takes to any platform as if it’s a sold out arena. Tate is, by far, the most deserving (of a contract) underground artist in Atlanta right now. She executed her set so brilliantly and professionally. She began by signing her R&B tune “Barbie Whoah” – from her “Love Lullabies” EP – while playing the keyboard. Following that was her latest single, a girl anthem titled “BBLU,” which is a head bopping mixture of new age rhythm and blues and fly girl hip hop. She closed her set with “Orange” (my song of choice when I traveled to Jamaica), a track from her debut EP, “ROYGBIV.” Tate’s versatility shined through and her incomparable stage presence got the crowd so hyped, I hopped out of my seat before realizing it. Tate is a superstar, but not in the making. She already is, but the world just doesn’t realize it yet.
With all the creative capacity present Sunday night, it dawned on me that the Venus showcase is important for mainly two reasons: it spotlights the diverse, budding talents in Atlanta, as well as provides a space for female artists to show they can hold their own in an industry that is still biased toward men. Furthermore, I must acknowledge that the showcase was put together by a woman. I believe she handpicked all of the musicians herself, which shows her keen eye for spotting great talent. Clearly, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the event planning scene, and I’m excited to see what she does next.
If you are looking for new music to add to your library, follow the links below. Check out the Flockaland events page for a complete list of the lineup and to keep up with what’s happening around the city.