Guest Post by Madam CJ
In 2003, Jabari Graham was at a crossroads. He was 23 years old, and just got laid off from his job at the Universoul Circus.
Like most people in America, the first place Graham went to was the unemployment office to get a check, and hopefully a job, eventually. Jabari never found a job, but he did come up with something. An idea for an art showcase called Art, Beats & Lyrics. Art Beats+Lyrics is an exhibit that combines urban contemporary art with hip-hop, giving visual artists from the hip-hop generation a forum for their art to be displayed and viewed by their peers as DJs and selected singers and rappers provide the soundtrack. Starting out with an initial investment of $1,500 made up from borrowing from family and church, donations from local business and those always helpful unemployment checks, Graham hosted the first AB+L in 2004 at Atlanta venue formerly known as The 5 Spot. It drew about 300 people and from charging $5 a head, Graham broke even with just enough to cover his living expenses for the next month. In 2005, word of Graham’s show began to spread, and even led to his old employers at Universoul re-hiring him to help with promotions. Jack Daniels got wind of what Graham was doing and decided they wanted to parnter with him. Fast forward a decade, after the idea and successfully launching Gentleman Jack’s AB+L, Graham decides to launch a 24/7 digital platform. The music festival’s 2nd coming, an online radio station, ABLradio.com
What made you transition into ABLRadio.com?
I just realized,in my opinion, there was a void in radio. I know there is Terrestrial radio, Pandora and even Spotify, along with community and college radio. I wanted put my spin to it. I love music. I’m not a robot that controls programming or a conglomerate. I just like to play good music..plain and simple. Technology these days allows me to do that, along with shows compromised of friends and taste makers who share the same thoughts.
Will Arts Beats and Lyrics be traveling again this year? If so where?
Yes it will be traveling. I’m not sure the places yet but keep in touch with us and follow our schedule.
How do you determine who the acts will be?
It just has to be a good feel. I learned a lot from old school promoters/producers, so I like to go see the artist perform before I book them. I don’t like surprises. I am very protective of my brand. If it works to my fit, then i’ll book them. Simple as that.
Do you have a dream roster?
Nah,not really..my thoughts change with the wind. Somethings stay stable and I build on. Some don’t, but at the same time, I’m not afraid to take risks.
What can we look forward to in 2015 on ABLradio.com?
Something better than 2014, one of my mentors always told me, “You are only as good as your last show,” and I try to incorporate that in everything that I do.