Promoter Michael Kitchen is on a mission to bring neo-soul and conscious hip-hop artists to Charlotte. In the last five years, he’s booked concerts with artists such as the Roots, Raheem Devaugn, Dwele and Laura Izibor at Charlotte clubs and venues.
Last week, Kitchen, also known as Kitch, brought rapper Common to the Forum. Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek are coming June 11. For later this summer he booked Esperanza Spalding to kick off the Sunset Jazz Festival.
In celebration of Black Music Month, Kitch talked with me about his black music faves, and the challenges of bringing artists to Charlotte.
What dead singer would you most like to bring to Charlotte for a concert. Why?
Michael Jackson. He’s the greatest and after watching “This Is It,” I would have done whatever I had to do to see that concert and bring it to Charlotte. I’ve always been a fan and will remain a fan no matter what people say about him. NO ONE will be able to do what he did for the music business especially in today’s time. He will forever be the G.O.A.T.
I’m also a huge Isaac Hayes and Teddy Pendergrass fan. Wish I could have had DJ AM here as well.
What’s your favorite musical era? Why?
’80s and ’90s.
’80s: We were coming out of disco and everyone wanted to know what was next. The lyrics and music was unheard of. Today’s artists are sampling and taking lyrics from the ’80s. Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, the Police, Billy Joel, and more were making their mark in music. Also, artists at this time toured more. Even when Michael Jackson was on top of the world, he still toured and worked like he just came out. I think the ’80s was a very creative time and a lot of music started coming to the mainstream market.
’90s – The ’90s was the best era in black music especially in hip-hop. Not only did the giants of the ’80s step there game up but the new talent came with a force. It seemed like the newer talent took a step back and examined the music in the 70s and added a ’90s twist to it. So much good music in the 90s.
How has Charlotte’s local music scene changed in the last five years?
It has improved, but it could be better. With a city this size, we should have so many more artists coming here.
What current underground artist would you most like to bring here, but you’re worried the Charlotte audience won’t be receptive?
Wow! It’s so many but I like Nneka, V.V. Brown, Little Dragon, and a few others. I’m actually working on some of them as we speak. Can’t let it all out. I’m always scared when I bring “live music” to Charlotte. People here just don’t get it sometimes. I leap out on FAITH and make sure I have all my bases covered.
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