– Miles Bloxson, KUTX Host
Urban Music Fest started in 2006, as an idea of three businessmen. Homer Hill the founder of Catfish Station a family-owned business and now known as Mr. Catfish, Donnie Little a former quarterback of the University of Texas, and Donnell Creech the owner and founder of Soulciti a website, which is dedicated to covering Black news, arts, and culture in Austin.
The concept came about after a fire took place in 2005 at one of Austin’s beloved black-owned night club’s Midtown Live. “One evening, Midtown Live which is primarily a club, but they also had a kitchen, and supposedly the kitchen caught on fire. So I guess when they called 911, it was overheard on different dispatches between the police department, the fire department, people were saying stuff like burn baby, burn, you know, racial epithets. And so I guess they didn’t realize their intercoms were on and it created a big outcry from the community. Midtown was a very popular place and that was the impetus for the African-American Quality of Life initiative,” Hill said.
This led to The African American Quality of Life Initiative which was a collaboration between the City community leaders, neighborhoods, and business owners to address the disparities in the treatment of the African American Community.
The City Demographer did a study that “confirmed African Americans trailed other ethnic groups in many socio-economic areas.” City staff, along with an outside consulting firm called Group Solutions and community leaders identified 56 initiatives in six categories that would improve African American quality of life in Austin.
Arts, Culture & Entertainment was one of the six and so the trio got together and presented their idea to the city and they gained the support they needed to make the Urban Music Fest happen.
The festival brings in 7,000 to 12,000 attendees and is held at Auditorium shores. Urban Music Fest has had performers such as Boyz 2 Men, Frankie Beverly and Maze, En Vogue, Charlie Wilson, The Ohio Players, Brandy and so many more. They also work closely with the community and have created the Soul Tree Collective Young Band Project, which fosters young Musicians in Travis and Williamson County.
Even though they weren’t able to host the festival last year because of the pandemic, Urban Music Fest is still thriving. As for the future, Homer hopes, “For the community to start embracing the whole community. To become explorers into other cultures, especially African-American culture and to derive the benefits from it.”