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Mississippi’s underground music artists compete in Gulfport

From left, Moho Shaheed, winner Quavis Black and Christina Marie pose for a photo after The Sound Talent Showcase at the 13th St. Jazz Bistro in downtown Gulfport on Sunday, March 12, 2017.
From left, Moho Shaheed, winner Quavis Black and Christina Marie pose for a photo after The Sound Talent Showcase at the 13th St. Jazz Bistro in downtown Gulfport on Sunday, March 12, 2017. Special to Sun Herald

A humbly-dressed Quavius Black stepped onto the stage Sunday night at 13th St. Jazz Bistro, and by the end of his performance he had powered his way to victory.

The rapper and lyricist edged out seven other contestants to win The Sound, a new talent showcase for independent music artists that drew about 75 people.

Willie Buchanan, also known as 1st Day Fresh, joined forces with Marc Hughes Music to create the format of The Sound.

“We wanted to do something different instead of just making it a typical R&B or hip-hop show,” said Buchanan.

To assure that a diverse talent base was represented, he and Hughes brought in an array of singers, lyricists and spoken-word artists, all of whom received extensive critique and review by a panel of judges consisting of music producers and media professionals.

“We wanted to give everybody a different chance to showcase their talent in their own way,” Buchanan said. “There’s lack of outlets out here; it’s not New York City, where you may have a record label down the street; you pretty much have to have people willing to reach out to.”

Black projected his lyrics in ballistic form to the audience, performing his own song, “Get Well Soon,” and sampling Musiq Soulchild’s “So Beautiful.” He successfully delivered thought-provoking content that impressed the judges and brought most of the audience to their feet.

“I was feeling those lyrics all the way with you, brother,” said Anthony Drew Fairly, also known as Moss Point producer 5ive Weeks, owner of the Jackson-based Underground Talent Center. “You definitely came through as one of the best performers tonight.”

Entering the contest at the last minute, Black was doubly surprised at the prize he won, which could help boost his music career.

“I actually got hip to (The Sound) real late, but when I saw what the prizes were, I said this is tight, I need to check this out for sure,” said Black.

He won the grand prize of $250, which includes a free studio session at The Underground Talent Center with 5ive Weeks, along with a comprehensive publicity/promotion package.

He was chosen above two other finalists, singer Christina Marie and spoken word artist Mojo Shaheed. Also competing were Suryah the Artist, Vitamin Cea, Jasiel Ace and Chadwick R. Cox.

Marie, a 27-year-old from, Starkville said, “I definitely think that this is a unique opportunity that doesn’t come around too often here in Mississippi. It’s a good opportunity for people who are trying to perform music or poetry to get a field for the stage and be in front of crowds.”

Another contestant, Koolkid Ridge, 23, from Jackson, agreed. “Basically, I’m looking to just spread more good music and some true hip-hop and music you can relate to, in any aspect in life, like when you’re on top of the world and when you found the love of your life,” he said. “I think this will give me more than enough exposure, to be amongst some great artists.”

Fairly said he enjoyed listening to the artist from a producer’s standpoint. “I’m looking for originality; in this day and age everybody sounds the same and hopefully we can find our next Drake, Eminem or Adele or Beyoncé,” he said.

Organizers of The Sound are planning more talent showcases this summer and fall, with a grand finale scheduled for the end of 2017.

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