For the second year, the Soul Junction music festival will take over the Liston Hall lawn at Johnson C. Smith University. The two-day event starts Friday after work and picks up again on Saturday.
Sponsored by Charlotte Center City Partners, the event is meant to work hand-in-glove with the organization’s West End Initiative, which focuses on economic development along the West Trade Street/Beatties Ford Road corridor.
The festival also coincides with Center City Partners’ Music Everywhere initiative to make music “the indisputable heart of Charlotte…”
Qcitymetro caught up with Quentin Talley, one of the event’s organizers, to talk about Soul Junction. Here are some excerpts, edited for brevity and clarity:
Q. For people unfamiliar with Soul Junction, how would you describe it?
It’s a big family reunion. Imagine going to your family reunion cookout. You see people from across the community, not just folks who live in Historic West End and the Beatties Ford area, but people from all over Charlotte. The nice thing about last year is that it was a very diverse crowd. Music always brings people together, so it was a good time to see a nice and diverse crowd out and about.
Q. Why host it at JCSU?
They are a natural partner. They’ve been an anchor in the community since 1867, so it was just a natural fit to have it on the campus. It’s right there on the lawn next to Mechanics & Farmers Bank and Liston Hall.
Q. What was your role with Soul Junction?
I was the curator, so I curated the lineup, chose all the artists for the lineup this year — this year and last year.
Q. What did you look for when selecting the artists you chose?
I started at home first. There were a lot of bands that I didn’t get to line up last year, so I reached out to them first. Then we wanted to branch out and bring in some more nationally known artists. It just so happened that some of them are affiliated with Charlotte. There’s Shelby J, who was Prince’s former background singer. She’s from Concord, I believe. And then Georgia Anne Muldrow; she has family here. And Derrick Hodge; he used to play with Robert Glasper. The Drummer with Derrick is from Charlotte also. So it’s really a highlight of Charlotte’s best musicians.
Q. Aside from a local connection, were you looking for certain styles or genres?
I was looking for soul, hip hop, spoken word, funk, jazz, R&B — all those good sounds come together to make soul. So the idea was to have a variety of genres throughout the day. So we start off with spoken word and hip hop on Friday, and then we transition to R&B and a little bit of jazz. And then we continue with jazz and R&B on Saturday and move into more funk and soul.
I just want folks to come out. Some of the artists they may have heard of, some they may not have heard of, but all these artists are nationally known in their own right. And it’s free, and you can’t beat free.
Q. What about food?
There will be food. I think we’ll have a couple of food vendors and some trucks out there, so people can purchase food.