Last weekend, I finally attended BLED FEST, an annual music festival in Howell, MI, after years of not being able to go. NO REGRETS. The day was filled with seeing friends from all over the state and listening and dancing to some incredible musical performances. One such act was hip-hop artist Jahshua Smith.
Jahshua's bandcamp bio reads, "Smith's conscious, sociopolitical lyrics about his experiences in Detroit hit just as hard as his fly, cocksure rhymes," and after seeing him perform with his backing band, cleverly named "The Race Card," I can confirm the songs hit hard.
After his set and a few others, I checked out a new feature to the festival this year: panel discussions, covering issues such as building and maintaining a healthy and progressive DIY community and supporting safe spaces and those that frequent them. One discussion I made it to was "Representation in Music," with panelists including Julia Steiner of Ratboys, Koji, Stefanie Haapala, and Jahshua, brought up talks about what artists and audience members alike can do to support their music scene, take accountability and make changes when problems occur in the community, and how to use music to make a positive impact in the community.
Music, both on a large commercial scale or within small DIY communities, can bring the energy and power to overcome negativity and hate throughout the world, and it takes a lot of teamwork and effort to make change happen. As Jahshua said toward the end of the panel, "Talk is cheap, and actions go much longer than words." It was great to meet you, man, and I can't wait to see you perform again.