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Northwest Arkansas Music Lovers

The Music Education Initiative

Mission: The Music Education Initiative exists to engage, educate, elevate the next generation of professionals in the business of music and entertainment.

Earlier this year the organization launched a workforce development program, which currently includes both production education and technical training to address the immediate demand for stage crew staffing in the region.

In addition to training and job placement support, the organization provides educational opportunities for the community at large through special exhibits and events. A current exhibit entitled The Juke Joint Project is on display at the Pryor Center in downtown Fayetteville. Now through the end of June, community members can experience a life-size, walk-through replica of a Delta Blues juke joint received from the Clinton Presidential Center.

Quick Fact: The organization was co-founded by Orson Weems and “GT” Thompson, who were both mentored by and worked alongside the legendary Al Bell.

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Music Moves

Mission: Music Moves is on a mission to take the rich heritage of Black music and the arts into our community through live concerts, online performances and educational programs.

Upcoming live performances include The Sound of Freedom featuring Ricky Wade and Genine LaTrice Perez, which will feature tributes to Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and other influential Black artists as part of Crystal Bridges’ Forest Concert Series on June 18—and the Freedom Festival Juneteenth celebration in downtown Springdale on June 19, which will feature musical performances by Montell Jordan, Morris Day and The Time, Lamar Campbell, and many others.

Quick fact: Music Moves partnered with 2021 Grammy Music Educator of the Year Dr. Jeffrey Murdock to develop a K-12 curriculum that is currently being offered in schools across the region to educate students on the history of Black music in America and how it relates to music today.

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Groundwaves Arkansas

Mission: Becoming a sister to a program launched in Northern Colorado in 2019, Groundwaves arrived in Northwest Arkansas through a partnership with the Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange in 2021. Groundwaves (AR) is a 6-month hip-hop open mic and mentorship program, led by independent hip-hop legend Murs.

The program provides an open mic where all artists, established and aspiring, are welcomed onstage, constructive real-time feedback for each performer from their audience of peers, and one-on-one mentorship by Murs. Now in its second season running through October 12, Groundwaves (AR) open mics are held the second Tuesday of every month with one-on-one mentorship sessions with Murs the following day. The open mic begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Quick facts: On October 13, 2016, Murs set a Guinness World Record for rapping for 24 hours non-stop during a live stream on Twitch. In its inaugural season, Groundwaves (AR) provided 48 hours of one-to-one mentorship time to 36 different rappers, MCs, and music producers, many of whom were first-time performers.

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Her Set Her Sound

Mission: Her Set Her Sound (HSHS) is a platform and the first music fest in Northwest Arkansas committed to amplifying and empowering women and non-binary talent. HSHS promotes DJs, producers, and creatives locally and beyond, centers womanism and produces liberating programs and experiences that celebrate all womanhood to heighten a sense of interconnection.

The next HSHS showcase will feature DJ Dribblz, DJ Susie Q, and DJ Soulfree and take place on August 19 at Railyard Park Butterfield Stage in downtown Rogers. You can purchase tickets here.

Quick facts on the DJ’s above:

  • DJ Soulfree has 25 years of experience behind the turntables mastering the art of the mix. Lover of reggae mixed with punk and hip-hop funk, Houston native DJ Soulfree has DJ’d raves and clubs like Power Tools, Fitzgeralds, Rockefellers, Club Some, Blue Iguana, Club Waxx and more.
  • DJ Susie Q is passionate about mixing her Latinx roots with electronic music. Originally from San Francisco, in 2014 she started DJing at Dancenhance Entertainment in Northwest Arkansas where she gained the liking of clients like Monster and Wal-Mart. From corporate to private events, Susie Q gets the most out of being able to spread peace, love, unity, and respect through her music.
  • DJ Dribblz is a self-taught DJ and former UA hooper from Pensacola, FL. With an instrumental background using snare drums & piano and a niche for playlist making, Dribblz started mixing in 2019. Playing and producing music are activities she believes she can always grow in. She enjoys blending hip-hop, R&B, and reggae genres to make sure her audience enjoys the moment.
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The House of Songs

Mission: The House of Songs is a 501(c)3 that invites songwriters from around the world to the United States to share the universal language of music in collaborations designed to bridge cultures, build friendships and cultivate peace.

Inspired by a collaboration between Troy Campbell and Poul Krebs, the House was envisioned at a writer’s retreat on the Danish island Samsø, aka Song Island. In 2009, they started a one-year project to bring Danish artists to Austin, TX. Recognizing music provides a conduit for connecting diverse cultures together, Campbell developed a plan to spread the concept to other parts of the world.

Joining the original location in Austin, The House of Songs Ozarks opened in Bentonville in 2017 with support from The Walton Family Foundation. Programming includes both virtual and face-to-face residencies, co-writing sessions, recordings, live performances and multi-region tours. Check out their Facebook page to stay up to date on upcoming events.

Quick Fact: The House of Songs has sponsored collaborations in 33 countries. House participants have had internationally charted songs, earned Grammy nominations and festival headlining slots.

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City Sessions

Mission: City Sessions’ mission is to build community through music. The primary way the organization carries out this mission is through a flagship concert series based in Northwest Arkansas that features artists from our communities and around the world.

The next concert will feature Matt the Electrician w/ Mia Gjeldum and take place on June 16 in the Black Apple neighborhood in Bentonville, check out a list of upcoming events here.

Quick Fact: The 3rd Annual Home Sweet Home Festival occurred on April 29-30. In total, 500 participants attended the 40 shows featuring 26 local artists and 6 national artists in neighborhoods throughout downtown Bentonville. Home Sweet Home Fest 2023 will be announced this fall.

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