Imagine being able to sit back, relax, and watch live performances from 15 of your favorite artist all in one day. Well, it doesn’t have to be a dream; you can experience that and more by attending the One MusicFest in Atlanta, Georgia.
Recently, Kontrol had the opportunity to chat with Jason “J” Carter, founder of One MusicFest.
One MusicFest is one of the largest urban music festivals in the Southeast that features about 15 artist in an 11 hour span. The birth of the One MusicFest was inspired by Jason Carter’s love for music.
“Going to festivals state to state, I just didn’t see an outdoor open air music festival that concentrated on progressive urban music or culture”, said Carter. They would either be all the way left like ‘trap music’ or ‘turn-up’ or they would be all the way right like Frankie Beverly, New Edition, and everything in between. It just didn’t make sense not to have a platform or stage where I could equally enjoy Kendrick Lamar and turn around and catch Andra Day. That’s how I listen to music, and I thought we need to put this together.”
The One MusicFest has been going strong since 2010, and now going into 2016 it has transformed into a phenomenal music experience.
“It started back in 2010 on the hottest day in July. It was in a parking lot with 2000 people, and has now grown to a multi-stage 17 to 18 thousand person festival in the last 6 years.”
The One MusicFest is not your average cookie cutter music festival. In fact, it has often been described as the “modern day Woodstock”.
“I understand where that comes from, because the energy you have is that of unity. It’s very inclusive. It’s nothing to see a 19 year old Georgia Tech student standing next to a 42 year old African American attorney reciting the lyrics of one of Nas’ biggest songs. It just breeds that type of environment where you will see people from all different types of backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. Kind of a ‘One Love’ ‘Kumbaya’ where you end up looking around and saying to yourself this is pretty progressive. No one is judging you, come as you may, dress how you like, and sing and dance as hard as you want to. Everyone is just there to celebrate urban music and culture.”
According to Carter, what sets the One MusicFest apart from other music festivals such as Essence is…
“The people and the music. You will be hard pressed to find an open air festival that has a 70 percent African American attendance, and that concentrates on the breathe of music that we have at One MusicFest. You will be very hard pressed to find a festival that not only has a Southern hip-hop but also funk, classic hip-hop and R&B. Essence does a great job with what they have going on, but to me it feels more like a concert/expo. It doesn’t really give me that festival open air lay my blanket in the grass with my friends and family feel.”
Of course setting up an event like this is bound to have its challenges. Carter spoke about some challenges that he has faced while building his brand.
“I’ve faced challenges of any small business such as resources and funds, but honestly we had a good deal of resources. When we initially started building out the festival we had big eyes and quickly realized that it was expensive. They cost a lot! That’s why you don’t see a whole lot of independent folks that look like me doing this. It’s expensive and each year you try to build upon the momentum that you had the year before. So building upon that most likely your expenses will increase. Another thing is that ‘we’ (when I say ‘we’ I mean the ‘urban community’) are not use to an event or program like this where you have an open air festival with multiple stages. A lot of us tend to want buy our ticket, sit in our seats for two hours, and go home. This festival is 11 hours of music, 15 artist, 30 different DJs, food trucks, artist village, games, and smart tech lounges. There is a lot to discovery and a lot of walking around. Also educating the urban community that there is a different way to experience live music.”
If you have never attended the One MusicFest, Carter says newcomers can expect,
“Beautiful people everywhere. The first thing that will hit you is the diversity of the audience. You will see college kids, it’s multi-generational and it’s multicultural as well. The smells will hit you as well. There are tons of food trucks, but good food. You won’t walk up and get a hot dog or a hamburger. You will experience brisket, vegan food, serious down south bar-b-que. Then everywhere you turn you will hear music. We have two smaller DJ stages and then two live music stages that will be going on all day long. There will be discovery at every turn. There will also be an artist village where there will be 15 of Atlanta’s visual artists displaying their work. There will also be merchandise for sale such as t-shirts, jewelry, books, etc. It’s definitely something for everyone to explore.”
Being the founder of a music festival of this caliber has got to come with some perks such as being able to watch some of your favorite artist perform live. Carter shared with us who he was most looking forward to see perform in this year’s festival.
“There is no one favorite. Anyone who has lived in Atlanta for the past 5 years or more is familiar with the Dungeon Family. To have all of them on one stage, a Dungeon Family reunion, it’s never happened before and probably won’t happen again. For the entire Dungeon Family to perform all their greatest hits that’s monumental not just for Atlanta but for hip-hop history. I’m also looking forward to see Gary Clark Jr. I have been trying to get him for a while and this time his people reached out to me about being a part of the festival. I was excited about that. Also, Anderson.Paak’s first time performing in Atlanta with his full band. I’m excited to see what that looks like. I’m excited about it all. The most difficult thing is going to be running back from stage to stage trying to see it all.”
Lastly, Carter shared his future plans for the direction of the One MusicFest.
“There have been talks of expansion. Making it into a multi-day music festival, also creating maybe a week long roll out of smaller events and weekend festivals. Smaller performances, discussion pieces, and panels. It’s almost at this point our obligation to give our growing audience more than just a one day fest. We did it a little bit this year with the panels. We did a technology tech talk with Ryan Leslie in April. We had a line wrapped around the building, and that really opened our eyes and made us realize that folks want more conversation and want to dig into the culture a little bit more. We have a huge database and we plan to utilize it.”
Don’t miss out on this musical experience. The One MusicFest will take place on September 10th at the Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, GA. The artist line-up for this year’s festival is as follows:
BJ The Chicago Kid
Gary Clark Jr.
Will we see you there?
By Ronda Brooks