This year marks the 12th annual Austin Urban Music Festival. From its original inception in 2006, the festival came from an Austin quality of life initiative for African Americans. In fact, it was the city’s first Afro-centric music fest. And like many festivals in Austin, the Urban Fest has changed over the years, redefining its music format and what it hopes to bring to audiences. Today, the festival prides itself on being a family-friendly entertainment option during the Texas Relays Weekend – one of the nation’s top field and track events that brings thousands of visitors to Austin during the same weekend.
The festival features different stages that focus specifically on hip-hop, R&B, indie soul, gospel, and neo soul. It also highlights local and unsigned African-American artists that have yet to be heard nationally. In addition, Soul Tree Collective – a local non-profit organization that supports the musical endeavors of students – features a showcase for young musicians during the festival, giving them a place to perform, sometimes for the first time.
This year’s festival features a mix of established and upcoming artists. Tony! Toni! Toné!, MC Lyte, LeToya Luckett and Troy Nōka are scheduled to perform day one of the festival. Day two will bring Keith Sweat and The Whispers, as well as the Texas Jazz Explosion featuring Althea Rene, Kyle Turner and Michael Ward (lineup is subject to change).
The Urban Music Festival 2017 is at Auditorium Shores on Friday, Mar. 31 from 3 – 10 p.m. and Saturday, Apr. 1 from 12 – 10 p.m. Ticket pricing ranges from about $37 to $154. Shuttles will be available during the festival. More information on tickets and shuttle locations can be found at urbanmusicfest.com.