To say that Meet Me At The Altar are 21st-century trailblazers is not hyperbolic.
They just are.
In a genre dominated by angry white men, this all-female trio of POC, 20-something pop-punk divas — with their brash attitude, ferocious guitar riffs, earworm burrowing pop melodies, and innate badassery — are blazing trails through a new frontier, creating space for women and people of color.
“And we’ve got LGBTQ representation,” Ada Juarez said enthusiastically. “We are like everything.”
The band will take their Pink Couch Tour to the 191 Toole stage in Tucson on Tuesday.
In step with hard rock act Fanny — who in 1969, became one of the first all-female rock bands to sign with a major label — Meet Me At The Altar have focused the spotlight on musicianship, rejecting the presumptions placed on women in the music industry.
After forming in 2015, the three members of MM@TA — vocalist Edith Victoria Johnson, guitarist Téa Campbell, and Juarez behind the drum kit — all hailing from different states (Georgia, Florida and New Jersey, respectively), began fleshing out songs remotely via the Internet.
The band embarked on their first tour in 2018.
During the tumultuous summer of 2020 — as the nation reeled following the televised murder of George Floyd — MM@TA were recipients of The Black Creators Funding Initiative (a fund created by electropop rebel Halsey to help black creators amplify their voices, their art and perspectives).
Subsequently, MM@TA went viral.
Meet Me At The Altar signed with Fueled by Ramen (a record label owned by Warner Music Group) in 2020.
“That was when it was go time,” Juarez recalled. “That moment really shaped our lives.”
After several high-profile gigs — including a stint opening for pop-punk stars Green Day and a coveted slot at the Lollapalooza music festival — MM@TA teased their forthcoming debut album with a fans-only preview at the Kiss Chapel (inside the Rio Hotel & Casino) in Las Vegas during the When We Were Young Festival in October 2022.
Performing their breakout hit single “Say It (To My Face),” MM@TA made their television debut (January 2023) on The Stephen Colbert Show.
Masterfully capturing the sounds and aesthetics of the early aughts, Meet Me At The Altar released their debut album “Past // Present // Future” — a record produced by John Fields (Pink, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato) — in March.
Enlisting Fields to twirl the knob on the mixing console was no coincidence.
“We needed someone to understand our vision,” Campbell said.
“This album pays homage to the music we loved growing up while reflecting our modern-day lives, sounds, and experiences.”
Since its release, life for MM@TA has been a whirlwind.
* * *
In advance of their Tucson performance on Tuesday, June 6, at 191 Toole, the young women of Meet Me At The Altar recounted how it all came together.
As a teenager living in New Jersey, Juarez began recording drum cover videos in her bedroom and posting them on YouTube in the early 2010s (amassing a significant following in the process).
Juarez’ videos proved to be instrumental in the formation of Meet Me At The Altar, drawing Campbell’s attention first.
The two became fast friends.
Their moniker stems from a bonding moment between Juarez and Campbell via text.
“I was like ‘marry me!’” Campbell said. “And she typed, ‘meet me @ the altar.’”
“So, we kind of became a band before any of that started. We called ourselves a band, but we weren’t doing any band things,” Juarez recalled with a laugh. “We were like 14 and 16, on YouTube.”
“We put up covers for a few years. We were kind of doing the music thing, just not physically,” Campbell added. “We weren’t playing shows yet.”
“We grew up on the internet. We had our own recording equipment and software,” Juarez said. “File sharing is something that we are accustomed to.”
Eventually, Juarez and Campbell went in search of a vocalist, they told the Tucson Sentinel in an interview.
“Me and Téa held auditions (online),” Juarez said. “That’s how we met Edith.”
Submitting a rendition of Paramore’s “All I Wanted,” Johnson found common ground with Juarez and Campbell, one to build a foundation upon.
Despite distance, song sketches began to bounce back and forth.
“Edith joined the band a couple of months after that.”
For the fiery young singer it came as no surprise.
“I have sang all of my life. I’ve performed in choruses and ensembles,” Johnson said. “Music is in my family. It was an unspoken thing… But I always knew that this was what I was going to end up doing.”
* * *
Despite growing up in different parts of the country, when Juarez, Campbell, and Johnson began attending shows they felt a similar void: Lack of representation for women, POC, and LGBTQ artists.
“When I started going to pop-punk concerts, I wasn’t seeing any black or brown people on stage,” Johnson mused. “I didn’t see very many women on stage either.”
Despite her passion for music, she grew frustrated not seeing a reflection of herself on stage.
“Where I grew up in Georgia, I was always the only black kid anywhere I went; the only black kid in school, the only black kid in my neighborhood,” Johnson reflected. “During middle school, when I attended school in Atlanta, it was a little more diverse. That is when I realized a lot about myself and the importance of diversity.”
“That was something all of us experienced growing up in our respective hometowns,” Juarez added. “Going to shows, being the only woman there and also happening to be the only person that was not white, the majority of the time.”
“I think that is another reason that we were so drawn to each other when we started the band. That’s why we kept going with it for so long and continue to do so,” Juarez stated passionately. “Because it is so powerful. It’s important.”
“One day it won’t be as important. That’s the point.”
* * *
As doors continue to open for the band, it is evident that change is taking place, in ways previously unimagined.
“We’ve had so many different opportunities,” Juarez said enthusiastically. “Like Taco Bell. Taco Bell is the one of the most mainstream platforms you can gain.”
The band’s hook-laden song “Say It (To My Face)” appeared in a 30-second advertisement, airing over the Christmas holiday, for the multinational fast-food giant, opening new horizons.
“So there are so many different kinds of people, from all walks of life, who come to our shows,” Juarez said excitedly. “The faces that we see that mean the most to us are of little kids. Parents will bring their kids to our shows; often it will be their first concerts. That is something that we don’t take lightly.”
“That may be a core memory for those kids. Our show may be what makes them realize that they want to be in a band,” Juarez said pensively. “That is what happened to us going to shows.”
“Music is what brings all of us together,” Juarez expanded. “And to be in a space where everyone feels safe, where there is not predominantly any one thing, I think really helps us to connect with our fans.”
* * *
During a time of volatility, when the rights of women, LGBTQ, and people of color are once again being challenged, Meet Me At The Altar are grateful to have a rostrum on which to stand upon.
“When we were first signed, it was during the thick of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Campbell said. “Being on tour, I’d think… ‘Stuff is really messed up.’”
“Very, very honestly, I am happy that we exist when we exist,” Juarez said. “Because a lot of young girls and girls of color they need to see us.”
“I like to bring it out this way… For artists of color and bands of color, I think that it’s more than words,” Johnson affirmed. “Just taking up space, letting people know that we exist in this industry is way more important than actually speaking sometimes.”
* * *
For the young women of Meet Me At The Altar “Brighter Days” lie ahead.
“We started out so young,” Campbell said. “I feel that we set ourselves up to where we can go anywhere and continue to make the kind of music that we are into at the time.”
“Hopefully, our career won’t end until we are a household name,” Juarez said resolutely. “We’re doing everything we can right now to make sure that we get to that point.”
“We are going to have a lot of hits, like Pink.” Campbell said, putting will to power.
The Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer fielded reader questions Friday during his weekly OKC Central Live Chat. Each week, Steve hosts a live chat, giving readers a chance to ask questions about Oklahoma City development and growth as well as an opportunity to ask direct questions of OKC newsmakers like Mayor David Holt and Dan Straughan, the executive director of the Homeless Alliance. On Friday, Steve hosted Mark Gillette, director of the Oklahoma City Housing Authority. You can join Steve most Fridays at 10 a.m. to add your comments and questions about downtown development.
To be able to ask questions and interact with Steve or special guests, you must have a digital subscription to The Oklahoman and you must be logged in. Right now, you can get unlimited digital access to all of our content for $1 for
School expansion likely across from State Fairgrounds
Q: ASTEC Charter School on Villa and General Pershing is gorgeous and there is plenty of land around it. When do you see them building the middle and high school there and leaving Shepherd Mall?
A: Freda Deskin, CEO and founder of Astec, confirms the school is planning to consolidate its operations at the elementary campus at 2600 General Pershing Blvd. As you note, the middle school and high school have been located at Shepherd Mall since the school was started. The school, K-12, has an enrollment of about 1,500 students.
Deskin said the school bought ample land for the elementary with the plan to someday build an adjoining middle school and high school. As a charter school, however, Astec does not get facilities funding. With increased interest rates, construction was delayed. But once costs level out, she said, the wait won’t be very long.
Boutique DNA came to an end with sale of 21c Museum Hotel
Q: Any thoughts on why the 21c Museum Hotel failed and how a different hotel concept might have more success in the old Ford assembly plant?
A: 21c Museum Hotels went from a small boutique hotel chain to being part of a massive global conglomerate. I was not surprised this didn’t end well and I’m hearing a similar separation is set for Nashville.
You say Arts District, they say West Village, I say Film Row?
Q: How many years do you think it will be until the jail is relocated? Also, which of the many branding attempts do you like for this district? West Village? Arts District? Film Row? Downtown? Which has the Lackmeyer seal of approval?
More:Designer for new county jail/health center selected by Oklahoma County
A: It will take a couple of years, at least, to get a jail designed and built. I am intrigued by the possibility of the current jail becoming a server farm for Amazon or Google. Imagine seeing that name at the top of the jail and development on the surrounding surface parking. It could be a nice transformation. As for the area around 21c, I refer to it by the historic name, Film Row. West Village is a commercial development in the middle of the neighborhood.
Potential airport regional transit line likely to serve nearby employers
Q: Is it possible to extend the Will Rogers World Airport commuter rail line to include the industrial employers along Portland Avenue, like Amazon and the SkyWest Maintenance Hub?
A: I’d be shocked if such a line doesn’t extend that way.
Could airport help establish regional transit link to downtown?
Q: The Airport Trust can raise revenue by adding a passenger facility fee (tax) to all departing passenger tickets. It’s usually about $3 to $5 per Airport. The funds are used to cover Airport operations and improvements.Now that Will Rogers World Airport has completed its expansion of the terminal, couldn’t passenger facility funds go to improve the rail corridor to downtown, without the need for a vote of the citizens?
A: I think you might be right or at least on the right track (forgive me on the pun). The airport also gets revenue from oil and gas royalties from its property. Could that assist in creating a line between downtown and the airport? Maybe. I’ll ask.
More:Regional transit election likely by early 2025, will fund commuter rail network
Clean up of Reno Avenue between Bricktown and First Americans Museum likely
Q: Do you know when planned improvements to Reno Avenue between Bricktown and the FAM will be revealed?
A: It’s possible with the beautification money provided by MAPS 4 and potential development along the corridor. But nothing is really planned out yet. I do believe the Chickasaw Nation will take an interest in the corridor.
Sales tax sole funding source for regional transportation
Q: Can an Oklahoma municipality raise revenue by means of a fuel tax? What about a regional transportation authority?
A: Currently, state law only allows the Regional Transportation Authority of Central Oklahoma to use sales taxes as a funding mechanism.
Engineers ignored request to build bridge wide enough for commuter rail
Q: Reducing or eliminating blocked rail crossings in Edmond is nice, but what about N 7th to N 16th, and along S Shields near Capitol Hill in OKC? Are there any other single-track bottlenecks between Downtown OKC and Norman? Part of that issue is the single-track bottleneck between 36th and Britton. It should’ve been expanded years ago. The BNSF bridge over I-235 should’ve been wide enough for two or three tracks when it was designed.
Couldn’t OKDOT have understood that commuter rail might use the I-235 bridge, and therefore designed it for two or three tracks?
A: Before work began on widening I-235 between NW 23 and NW 50, former Councilman Pete White urged ODOT to look at building a wider BNSF trestle bridge to accommodate future commuter rail operations. That request got nowhere, and his fellow council members showed no real zeal for pressing the issue.
What a missed opportunity. Meanwhile, in Tulsa, ODOT built a double deck bridge over the Arkansas River to allow for a potential future Amtrak line that has yet to go beyond lawmakers who said years ago they want to see such an extension become a reality.
Yes, the adding of more sidetracks is expected to eliminate most of the bottlenecks along the BNSF line between Edmond and Norman.
Downtown isn’t dead again
Q: Philosophical Question: For decades Oklahoma City has never had a vibrant downtown business environment. For small stretches there have been hopes on the backs of oil & gas companies, but eventually the market changes and we go back to begging companies to move downtown. What will change that? Should we be celebrating the industrial developments more? It is the heart and growth of OKC.
A: I’m not sure I agree with your view of downtown. We’ve seen a lot of diversity downtown that has allowed us to move away from reliance on energy companies. Yes, Devon and Continental Resources are still very important office anchors for downtown. But we also have the recently completed redevelopment and makeover of the former Cotter Ranch Tower into the headquarters for BancFirst. State agencies now fill up the former SandRidge tower. Heartland Payment Systems employs hundreds in both its new headquarters along Automobile Alley and in the Mideke Building in Bricktown.
Public Strategies is consolidating its operations in a renovated warehouse just east of Broadway. Law firms, tech and banking are as important to downtown as energy these days.
I agree that industrial development is another important component to our city’s growth. We’re seeing bio-tech and pharmaceutical manufacturing coming our way with the Convergence development just east of downtown. The city worked with developers Mark Beffort and Dick Tanenbaum to create OKC 577, a new industrial reserve at I-240 and Bryant that also will be focused on attracting new pharmaceutical manufacturers.
A boulevard by any other name…
Q: By many (read most) people’s accounts, the naming for the “Oklahoma City Boulevard” was a horrible choice. Mick Cornett himself was the person pushing for that stale name if I understand correctly. I realize that Mayor Holt was the one-time chief of staff for Mayor Cornett, so Mayor Holt probably won’t have the inclination to reverse this horrible naming decision. Mayor Mick was a great mayor (even though his negative gubernatorial campaign was out of character), and he did everything else with excellence except this naming decision.
Do you believe this horrific injustice of a street name could be rectified with a future mayor? My next vote for mayor will be the candidate who has the intestinal fortitude to re-name the lifeless “Oklahoma City Boulevard” to something more befitting the gateway into the OKC downtown…such as Scissortail Boulevard or the like.
A: The decision to name the street “Oklahoma City Boulevard” is fully owned by Mick Cornett. There was no invitation for naming proposals, no public discussion, not even a city council debate. Mick was “ad man of the year” and that was good enough reasoning to push it through. I heard from a lot of people who were not happy with the name, who felt it communicated an insecurity that for years was deep-rooted in our city.
If it is to be renamed, do it now before the corridor is developed and we end up with property owners not wanting to be inconvenienced with changing their addresses.
Micro-housing coming to downtown
Q: I’m super excited that the Holiday Inn project is moving forward. Did you see the conceptual plans? It appears they are making apartments out of hotel rooms. I’ve only seen that in homeless shelters? Studios with less than 350 sf seem too small, given the average apartment in OKC is greater than 1,000 square feet (as per Richard Mize). Even the smallest unit at the Muse is over 450 sf. Is this going to create the wrong development in the heart of OKC?
A: Without knowing the buyer and being able to ask questions, most of the information I used to report this story was taken from the building permit filed with the city. Troy Humphrey, who works with the owner, Jonathan Russell, made it clear this is a real deal involving a buyer with the resources and experience to pull off a conversion of the old Holiday Inn into apartments.
The building permit shows most of the studio apartments will be built within the framework of the old hotel rooms, meaning most of them are between 224 and 260 square feet. That definitely makes this a micro apartment project. A few of the rooms are larger, but even those are no more than 470 square feet from what I can see in the plans submitted to the city.
In my college days I lived in an apartment that was about 700 square feet, and that was pretty small.
We’ve seen micro-apartments proposed before for downtown, notably an earlier aborted development proposed for 700 W Shartel where the Muse was recently completed. That proposal was submitted by Rohan Gupta, who also tried to convert the former Sycamore Square (now The Haven) apartments into micro units.
Neither proposal made sense to me. With the opening of the John Rex Elementary within walking distance of Sycamore Square, the need for its larger apartments was going up. Why do away with that scarce product? Ultimately, the development was boiled down to much needed updates and renovations. The project at 700 W Shartel was risky because it was on the fringe of downtown in an area where one doesn’t want to see an experiment done where if it fails it will create a huge problem.
The Holiday Inn site makes sense. It is next to the under-utilized Sheridan Walker Garage, within walking distance of the Oklahoma City Streetcar and thousands of service jobs. The building permit shows a lot of shared space that are needed with any micro development, including laundry rooms, workspace conference rooms, a clubhouse, bicycle storage room, dog park and grooming, pickleball court, fitness center and pool.
Add into this mix the northwest bus rapid transit line launching this fall, which can take anyone living downtown to and from the Homeland at NW 18 and Classen, Integris Baptist Hospital and other major destinations and employers. I look forward to learning more, but at first glance this looks like a great step forward for those needing affordable housing options downtown.
Development at NW 13 and Classen includes daycare, OnCue
Q: Is there any update on what is being constructed on the corner of Classen and 13th? Also, will there be a dedicated lane for the northwest bus rapid transit line? I know there will be priority signaling but if the buses are still sharing lanes with the rest of traffic, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?
A: I believe the construction you are referring to is on the northeast corner of NW 13 and Classen where Primrose School is building a Midtown campus.
I expect the daycare will open with full enrollment. Waiting lists have long been an issue downtown with the one YMCA daycare at NW 4 and Broadway and St. Luke’s three urban core locations at NW 4 and Robinson, NW 23 and Douglas, and NW 15 and Harvey.
The corner of NW 13 and Classen has already seen the replacement of an aging Gulf station and an OnCue on the southwest corner of the intersection.
As for the bus rapid transit line, Michael Scroggins, EMBARK spokesman, tells me the system will have dedicated bus lanes but not along the entire route. The northwest line will be the first bus rapid transit operation for Oklahoma City and much of the infrastructure is in place and the buses are ready to roll. Expect service to begin this fall.
Infill opportunities abound in Midtown – for now
Q: With any redevelopment, it seems like it exploits a hole after something starts work. Take, for example, the development of the property from Hudson on 10 (Phillips Murrah). Honestly, in the past, I didn’t realize how underdeveloped the southside of NW 9 was from Hudson to Walker, except for two houses. Does Midtown Renaissance own all of that land and is there any indication of their potential redevelopment of that area?
A: The block south of NW 9 between Hudson and Walker Avenues is owned by Cosair Cattle Co. (brothers Gary and Robert Smith). The pair were, for a long time, buy and hold speculators who often saw opportunities long before anyone else. In more recent years the pair have redeveloped properties, notably where Jimmy’s Egg is located. I do believe something will be developed on their remaining property in this area, including the closed apartments across from Elemental Coffee that were last home to a halfway house.
It wasn’t that long ago that the sprawling empty lots between St. Anthony Hospital and Hudson Avenue was filled with older homes and duplexes. I’ve seen photos of NW 6 that are just heartbreaking – a lot of three-story Victorian style houses that would command top sales prices today. But the area went into a long decline starting in the early 1970s and we lost much of that history due to fires, crime and blight. So now we have huge empty lots in the middle of Midtown.
But that is changing. And yes, most of these empty lots are owned by Midtown Renaissance Group, which led by Bob Howard, Chris Fleming and Mickey Clagg, has transformed the neighborhood into a carefully curated mix of housing, retail, restaurants, entertainment and offices.
The Phillips Murrah building will infill one of the largest empty spreads between NW 9, NW 10, Walker and Hudson Avenues. We’re also going to see infill along Harvey Avenue with the construction of a new Palomar campus. We are seeing more than $200 million of development all together in Midtown, making this a game changing year for the district.
More:More than $200 million going into creating a new skyline in Midtown Oklahoma City
Industry trends, politics complicate OKC’s ability to draw concerts
Q: I have noticed lately that there are a lot of mid-size to larger concerts that are going to places like Rogers, Arkansas, Huntsville, Alabama and Albuquerque, New Mexico and bypassing OKC all together. Specifically, most of them are playing amphitheaters in those cities and not coming to OKC. Looking at Pollstar.com, I can see Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, Disturbed, Mudvayne, Snoop Dogg, 50 cent, Avenged Sevenfold, Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, Beck and many others play those areas, but no scheduled stops in OKC or Tulsa, for that matter. I understand a lot of bands playing Dallas, Houston and Austin, but the others kind of throw me off. Why do you think that is? Management? Venue size? Other places are nicer? Oklahoma politics? Other?
A: I talked to Chad Whitehead, talent buyer with Tower Theatre, Pony Boy and Beer City. He is as good a source as anybody to explain the current situation with the concert scene. Recall that concert venues were hit hard by the pandemic and Oklahoma City was no exception.
More:New concert venue Beer City Music Hall taps into gap in OKC live music scene
Here is what Chad had to say:
“In the summer, tours LOVE hitting amphitheaters and specifically outdoor spaces. The Zoo Amphitheater is Oklahoma City’s only outdoor spot and, in my opinion, it does pretty solid bringing in some cool stuff. Overall though, what fans don’t understand is the buckets of the concert world; 500- and 1,000-cap clubs (like Tower), 3,000-cap venues (Criterion), and Paycom Center, etc., all operate with the different realities and the scale of pay for bands as they climb is apples to oranges.
“The business is built on helping bands maximize profits so an artist will never really play a smaller venue (and thusly make less money). As a side note though, our politics 100% turn off artists and keep some artists away from Oklahoma, particularly the female fronted bands.”
“If venue cities of Huntsville and Rogers are the examples given above, I am sure Alabama and Arkansas have the same politics as Oklahoma.“
CAMDEN — The Midcoast’s own jazz festival, Jazz in June Camden Maine, runs Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17. Downtown Camden will be filled with live music both days, as Jazz in June presents free daytime performances on the Village Green and in the Camden Amphitheatre; dusk receptions at downtown dining destinations; and ticketed evening concerts at the Camden Opera House.
“We are thrilled to be back, bigger and better than ever,” said Matt Brown, co-producer of the festival, in a news release. “This year’s festival features terrific shows for all: Women in Jazz on Friday night and the great Bill Frisell on Saturday night, as well as many talented local and regional artists.”
Featured performers at the opera house are jazz guitar icon Bill Frisell, who will cap the two-day fest with his trio, Saturday, at 7:30 p.m.; and saxophonist Grace Kelly and Los Angeles vocal stylist Staci Griesbach, both performing with their bands, Friday, at 7:30 p.m.
“Jazz guitarist, composer and recording artist Bill Frisell’s more-than-40-year career is rightly celebrated for its depth and range,” said the release. “One of the most distinctive and original improvising guitarists of our time, Frisell continues to innovate and inspire.”
Last year’s biography by Philip Watson is subtitled The Guitarist Who Changed the Sound of American Music.
Singer-saxophonist-songwriter-composer and band leader Grace Kelly recorded her first album at age 12; at 16, she performed at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. A seven-time winner of the Downbeat Critics Poll, and five-time winner of ASCAP Composers Award, Kelly has headlined more than 900 shows in more than 35 countries including all major festivals from Montreux and Newport to Montreal.
“Staci Griesbach is reimagining the Great American Songbook of Country Music in the style of jazz with interpretations that demonstrate the strength and versatility of country classics,” said the release. “Her arrangements add layers and depth to the pure and honest ‘three chords and the truth,’ as revealed in a Songbook series that celebrates the music of Patsy Cline, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton and George Jones.”
Daytime Jazz in June performers are the UMaine Jazz Ensemble, the Myles Kelley Trio, MidCoast Music Academy Faculty Band, Alice Limoges and Bill Barnes, Myles Kelley (solo), Lincoln Blake and Kristi Kalajian, and David Clarke.
Jazz in June 2023 is sponsored by Camden Maine Stay Inn, Lord Camden Inn, 40 Paper, First National Bank and First National Wealth Management, MainePublic, Tillson Crane Photography and John Steele Photography.
For schedule details, performers’ bios, ticketing link (camdenoperahouse.com) and more information, visit jazzinjunecamdenme.com.
Friday, June 16
Noon on the Village Green: Myles Kelley Trio and MidCoast Music Academy Faculty Band 5 p.m. at Lucky Betty’s: Alice Limoges and Bill Barnes 7:30 p.m.: Grace Kelly + Staci Griesbach (ticketed) at Camden Opera House
Saturday, June 17
10 a.m. at Zoot Coffee: David Clarke 1 p.m. at Camden Amphitheatre: UMaine Jazz Ensemble 5 p.m. at 16 Bay View’s The View: Myles Kelley; and at 16 Bay View’s Vintage Room: Lincoln Blake & Kristi Kalajian 7:30 p.m.: An Evening with the Bill Frisell Trio (ticketed) at Camden Opera House
BTS musician Jimin has once again risen to the top of Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart with his latest single, “Angel Pt. 1.” This latest champion not only solidifies his position as a powerful force in the music industry, but also allows the K-pop titan to prove his power and popularity in one more fashion.
“Angel Pt. 1” marks Jimin’s third No. 1 on the Digital Song Sales chart this year alone, and he now stands out as the artist with the most chart-topping songs on the purchase-only tally in 2023 so far.
His first taste of success came in early April with “Set Me Free Pt. 2,” which claimed the top spot for a week before being replaced by his follow-up single, “Like Crazy.” The latter achieved the largest sales week of the year, selling over a quarter of a million downloads in its debut frame and holding the No. 1 position for two weeks before being dethroned by his BTS bandmate Suga.
By securing his third No. 1 single on the Digital Song Sales chart this year, Jimin breaks out of a tie with three other musicians who have each managed a pair of chart-toppers.
MORE FROM FORBESJimin, Suga, Seventeen And Twice: The K-Pop Acts That Almost Landed A No. 1 Album In 2023By Hugh McIntyre
Nicki Minaj was the second musician to earn several No. 1s on the Digital Song Sales chart this year. She first reached the peak with her single “Red Ruby Da Sleaze,” which ruled for a week in March. Not long after that win, she joined rapper Ice Spice on the track “Princess Diana,” which reached No. 1 in late April with one of the biggest sales frames of the year.
Jimin’s bandmate Suga, using his Agust D nickname, also achieved two Digital Song Sales chart No. 1s with the singles “People Pt. 2” featuring fellow K-pop star IU and his own “Haegeum.”
The most recent artist to join this club is Ed Sheeran, who accomplished this feat just last month. Sheeran’s successful run began in mid-May with the single “Eyes Closed,” which took its time rising to the summit. He then replaced himself at No. 1 with “Life Goes On,” which also credits country musician Luke Combs. Interestingly, Jimin once again replaces Sheeran at the top spot this week.
With his latest achievement, Jimin now boasts a total of four No. 1 hits on the Digital Song Sales chart throughout his solo career. This places him among the most successful South Korean musicians of all time on the tally, second only to his group, BTS, which has accumulated an impressive 11 leaders on the chart.
MORE FROM FORBESFifty Fifty Joins (G)I-Dle, Loona, Twice And Blackpink With Their First Pop Radio HitBy Hugh McIntyre
R. Kelly’s record label are in financial trouble after New York prosecutors filed a Writ of Continuing Garnishment on behalf of the R&B singer’s victims on June 1, 2023.
Court documents obtained by HipHopDX revealed that R. Kelly’s record label, Sony Entertainment, is being demanded by creditors to pay down an outstanding balance. “The outstanding balance on the aforesaid judgment is $504,289.73, including interest, as of June 1, 2023. Interest is continuing to accrue,” one document stated.
According to another document that revealed a credit of $27,828.24 as part of the outstanding balance, more than 30 days has elapsed since demand for payment of the recorded debt. “The Garnishee is believed to owe or will owe money or property to the Debtor, or is in possession of property of the Debtor, and said property is a nonexempt interest of the Debtor,” the document read.
A third document read that Sony Music Entertainment, the Garnishee, is required to provide a written statement within 10 days of being served with the Writ of Continuing Garnishment.
In March of 2023, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported that Heather Williams, who was named as one of R. Kelly’s sexual abuse victims, was awarded access to the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s Sony Music royalties. Estimates of the royalties totaled $1.5 million.
R. Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, fought back against a $4 million judgement against the singer. “I’ve never in my career seen such a flouting of the rules to deny him even the opportunity to defend these civil cases, even when the courts were fully aware that Kelly was incarcerated, unrepresented at points, and facing multiple criminal indictments,” Bonjean said at the time. “Indeed, much of these civil proceedings occurred without Kelly’s knowledge.”
HipHopDX reported that R. Kelly was sentenced to two decades in February 2023 and served with the 30-year New York sentence where he was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. A grand jury found the singer guilty on 13 federal counts, which included child pornography and creating a sex tape with a minor.
In under five years, 32-year-old Dallas-born contemporary Christian music vocalist Brandon Lake has surged into becoming an ASCAP, Billboard, GMA Dove, Grammy and now three-time 2023 K-LOVE Fan Award-winning performer.
Of many highlights of the evening, his trio of victories for Male Artist, Song of the Year and Worship Song of the Year at the 10th annual K-LOVE Fan Awards — taped on May 28 at Nashville’s Opry House — were most impressive.
For King and Country were again named Artist of the Year (their wives accepted the award for the duo currently touring) while Lauren Daigle — whose 2018-released single “You Say” spent over two and one-half years on top of Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart — won for Female Artist of the Year, while MercyMe received their first K-LOVE Fan Award when they were named Group of the Year. The Breakout Single of the Year award went to Rachael Lampa for the TobyMac featuring “Perfectly Loved.”
Lake quoted the 100th Psalm (“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise”) when describing the power of Christian chart-topper “Gratitude,” which, alongside his work with Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music, is his first solo chart-topping single.
“As a living, breathing, walking, talking miracle, the song’s success is more of a blessing than a burden.”
He’s the product of a life he should likely never have lived, given that his mother had six miscarriages before his 1990 birth.
“God can use almost anyone and anything to carry forth his message,” Lake added. In the same vein as the 118th Psalm chronicling how Christianity’s foundations were built upon the stone which the builders refused, Lake noted that “Gratitude” — written in a session with Sydney, Australia-based Hillsongs member Benjamin Hastings at his apartment overlooking the city’s iconic opera house — almost didn’t get included in his 2020 album “House of Miracles.”
The K-LOVE Fan Awards winners list was rounded by The Chosen’s Season Three Finale awarded for Film & Television Impact, Phil and Jase Robertson’s “Unashamed” winning for Podcast of the Year, Phil Wickham’s “On Our Knees” winning for Book Impact, and Charlotte Smith being the Sports Impact Award honoree.
Insofar as performances, mainstream country stars like Gabby Barrett (who performed “Build A Boat” alongside Colton Dixon to open the proceedings) and Russell Dickerson (who joined Cody Carnes for “Ain’t Nobody”) were present, as well as solid work from Mac Powell and Jason Crabb (a lively take on “New Creation”), Tasha Layton and Jon Reddick (who performed parts of their respective singles “How Far” and “I Believe It”), plus We The Kingdom with breakout CCM star Anne Wilson combining forces for the former’s “Jesus Does.”
Notably, Blessing Offor had students from Nashville’s Covenant School join his performance of “Brighter Days,” which, before the tragic shooting that occurred at the school on March 27, two students won the Covenant talent show by performing the previously-mentioned song.
“I never imagined my song could mean so much until I saw it’s impact in the darkest of moments,” Offor stated concerning being shown a video of the talent show in the tragedy’s wake.
“People needed to have their souls lifted by their performance in the most honorable way possible,” he added about their K-LOVE collaboration.
Veteran Christian music superstar Steven Curtis Chapman was honored for his hit “Don’t Lose Heart,” becoming his 50th No. 1 in 35 years. Artists Bart Millard, Mac Powell, and Matthew West joined the Belmont grad in honoring his incredible success.
“For so long, I’ve been grateful to have the Christian music community identify that my songs are worthy of their connection,” stated Chapman, exclusive to The Tennessean while on the event’s red carpet. Not only did he tie together the evening’s themes of community, gratitude and identity, but he also noted the strong themes allowing for Christian music’s dovetailing in streaming and digital popularity — similar to mainstream country — since the COVID pandemic’s quarantine.
He further discussed how he hoped to have the connective potential for his work similar to that of Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash.
“Even if you didn’t know what they were singing about, you felt it. I’m blessed that the topics that emotionally stir my creativity allow me to sing what’s authentically in my soul, much like Cash and Campbell, much like Cash and Campbell.”
The event closed with the event’s hosts — the CCM trio CAIN — being joined by Andrew Ripp, Rachael Lampa, Lauren Daigle, Jason Ingram, Brandon Lake and Benjamin William Hastings for an ensemble performance of I’m So Blessed” to close the program.
TBN will broadcast an encore of the event on June 10th. For more information about K-LOVE, visit https://www.klove.com.
The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has confirmed it has secured some of those always fun web-blocking injunctions in Bulgaria, including against the good old Pirate Bay.
Web-blocking, of course, is the music industry’s anti-piracy tactic of choice. Internet service providers are ordered, usually by a court, to block their customers from accessing copyright infringing websites.
Whether or not such web-blocks are available varies from country to country. But Bulgaria has now been confirmed as a place where the tactic can be employed.
IFPI teamed up with Bulgarian industry group BAMP to secure an injunction ordering three ISPs to block access to both The Pirate Bay and local file-sharing site Zamunda.
While The Pirate Bay has been blocked in multiple countries, this is the first web-block against Zamunda, mainly because Bulgaria accounts for 80% of its traffic.
IFPI and BAMP say that the decision to grant the web-blocks in the Sofia City Court earlier this week will “have a big impact on limiting piracy in the country going forward”.
IFPI boss Frances Moore says: “We welcome this decision and the impact it will have on limiting illegal access to music. Copyright infringement of any sort causes serious harm to local music ecosystems and directs money away from those creating and investing in music”.
BAMP Executive Director Petya Totcharova adds: “We welcome the Sofia City Court’s decision which will strengthen the recorded music industry’s fight against online music piracy. It is the first time a website blocking order has been granted in Bulgaria and we consider this precedent an important step in the right direction”.
READ MORE ABOUT: International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry (IFPI) | The Pirate Bay
Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly round-up – where we make sure you caught the five biggest stories to hit our headlines over the past seven days. MBW’s round-up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximize their income and reduce their touring costs.
Are we just months away from music’s first billion-dollar catalog deal?
This past week, MBW broke the news that Queen’s catalog could be sold this year for over $1 billion.
Our sources tell us that the initial stages of a sale process for the band’s catalog is underway, and that a full acquisition could be completed by the end of this summer.
Also this week, South Korean entertainment giant HYBE was reported to be looking to raise around 500 billion Korean won (approx USD $380m) to fund acquisitions in the US.
The news was first reported by Bloomberg, which, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that HYBE, the music company behind K-pop superstars BTS and rising stars New Jeans, “is in talks with investors to secure equity financing”.
Meanwhile, Cutting Edge Media Music, a prominent buyer of film and TV music rights, stepped into the world of pop music this week, striking a deal with pop songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman. MBW understands that the deal tipped into the eight-figure realm.
Plus, MBW grilled TikTok’s Global music boss Ole Obermann, while Ezekiel Lewis was promoted to President of Epic Records.
Here’s what happened this week…
1) QUEEN MUSIC CATALOG COULD BE SOLD THIS YEAR FOR OVER $1 BILLION, SAY MBW SOURCES
Two years ago, MBW ran a popular story with an attention-grabbing headline: “Queen’s music is making crazy money. Could it be worth over a billion dollars?”
The answer to the question, we now hear from multiple high-level music industry sources, is a resounding yes.
We’re told that the initial stages of a sale process for the band’s catalog – combining both music publishing and recorded music rights – is underway, and that a full acquisition could be completed by the end of this summer.
Major music companies including Universal Music Group have been in discussions regarding a potential acquisition, we’re told, in addition to players from the world of private equity….
2) HYBE IS RAISING $380M TO FUND MORE MUSIC ACQUISITIONS IN THE US (REPORT)
HYBE, the music company behind K-pop superstars BTS and rising stars New Jeans, is looking to raise around 500 billion Korean won (approx USD $380m) to fund acquisitions in the US.
That’s according to Bloomberg, which, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that the South Korean entertainment giant “is in talks with investors to secure equity financing”.
The report adds, citing those same people, that HYBE “is open to having both strategic and financial partners…”
3) TIKTOK IS UNDER FIRE FROM SOME OF MUSIC’S MOST POWERFUL PLAYERS. ITS GLOBAL MUSIC BOSS SAYS THE FUTURE’S BRIGHT – AND ANSWERS SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS.
“Some of the short-form video providers are relatively new… it doesn’t take a scientist to realize that we are being underpaid by [them]” – Rob Stringer, Sony Music Group Chairman.
“In terms of where we’re currently situated… we’re going to be working hard to improve the economics for our artists and labels moving forward” – Michael Nash, EVP and Chief Digital Officer, Universal Music Group.
“I’ve seen this movie before. I know the ending” – Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO & Chairman, Universal Music Group.
The untrained eye might not notice that these recent comments from major music company leaders (and more like them) are specifically laser-targeted toward TikTok.
TikTok doesn’t even get a direct mention in any of them. But those who know, know.
One individual who understands precisely what these music execs are saying-without-saying is ByteDance‘s Global Head of Music Business Development (and therefore TikTok’s de facto global head of music), Ole Obermann.
Obermann spent 13 years at major record companies – a decade at Sony Music/BMG and then three years at Warner Music Group – before joining ByteDance in 2019.
Today, he is principally responsible for TikTok’s licensing relationship with music rightsholders both large (major labels) and small (indie artists).
Before sitting down with MBW for this interview, Obermann is pre-warned that we’re going to fire a number of gnarly questions his way – most of them informed by grumbles-over-a-drink we’ve heard in Record Label Land.
He is relaxed about that idea. Sure enough, he smiles as the heat gets turned up during our questioning – even chuckling on the occasions we spritz a few molecules of hyperbole into proceedings.
For Obermann, this Q&A isn’t only a chance to set the music industry straight on (as he sees it) misplaced gripes over the size of the checks being paid by TikTok to labels and publishers. It’s also an opportunity to amplify his view that TikTok will birth lucrative new areas of business for music rightsholders – cumulatively worth billions of dollars – via ‘sync’ licensing for ads by brands on TikTok, and via real-time e-commerce…
4) CUTTING EDGE STRIKES EIGHT-FIGURE DEAL WITH POP SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER JAMIE HARTMAN
Cutting Edge Media Music is stepping into the world of pop music, striking a deal with prominent songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman, who’s written or co-written numerous hits for artists such as Lewis Capaldi, Celeste, Calvin Harris, Rag’n’Bone Man and the Backstreet Boys, among many others.
CEMM says it “will purchase the majority of Hartman’s back catalog royalties”, published through his deal with Reservoir Media, which includes hundreds of songs he’s written and collaborated on with artists including Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Calvin Harris, Kygo and Lewis Capaldi as well as songs for commercials, TV and film written with artists such as Carole King, Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera.
MBW understands that CEMM has bought the majority of Hartman’s writers’ share. Hartman continues to be published by Reservoir…
5) EZEKIEL LEWIS PROMOTED TO PRESIDENT OF EPIC RECORDS
Ezekiel Lewis has been promoted to President of Epic Records.
He will continue to report to Sylvia Rhone, Epic Records’ Chairwoman and CEO, and to lead the A&R division while helping run the day-to-day operations of the Sony Music-owned label.
Lewis has served as the company’s Executive Vice President and Head of A&R since 2020….
MBW’s Weekly Round-Up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.Music Business Worldwide
Chris Tomlin album image courtesy of Schmidt Relations
Fri, Jun 2nd 2023 01:10 pm
Performance filmed during ‘Good Friday Nashville’; watch performance here
As one of Christian music’s most highly regarded worship leaders, Chris Tomlin has released a live performance version of his Grammy-nominated radio single “Holy Forever” featuring Jenn Johnson and Brian Johnson of Bethel Music.
The song has captivated worship leaders and church attendees across the globe since its release last fall and was recorded during Tomlin’s “Good Friday Nashville” concert held at Bridgestone Arena where Jenn and Brian were guest performers. “Holy Forever” was a collaborative write by some of the genre’s very best songwriters, including Tomlin, Jenn and Brian, as well as Phil Wickham and Jason Ingram. The song appears on Tomlin’s Grammy-nominated album “Always.”
Watch the live performance video of “Holy Forever” here .
“Songs are like arrows out of the bow … reaching places far beyond what I would imagine,” Tomlin said. “I definitely feel that ‘Holy Forever’ is one of those arrows. It’s an honor to be a part of a song like this … that reminds us all of the greater story … the song of heaven! I love hearing how this song is finding its way among gatherings large and small around the world.”
The reverence of the song’s performance and message on Good Friday was even more powerful as the concert came just a week after the Covenant school shooting in Nashville.
“Leading ‘Holy Forever’ with Chris on Good Friday was such a beautiful moment for us,” Jenn said. “This song has been so special, and leading it in the midst of a city in tragedy, was deeply moving. There was a powerful hunger in the room that evening as we worshipped, united together.”
More about Chris Tomlin
TIME magazine heralded Tomlin as the “most often sung artist in the world” as his music has inspired and uplifted an entire generation of believers. Along the way, he has scored 17 No. 1 singles on the radio, placed 29 top 10 hits (more than any other Christian artist), sold more than 12 million albums with 6.3 billion career global streams, won a Grammy, three Billboard Music Awards, 28 Dove Awards, became a two-time BMI Songwriter of the Year honoree and an ASCAP Songwriter of the Year. In 2016, he was named one of only four artists ever to receive the Sound Exchange Digital Radio Award for over 1 billion digital radio streams, alongside Justin Timberlake, Pitbull and Garth Brooks. Tomlin is also the first Christian artist to reach the billion streams threshold on Pandora and was presented with the BILLIONAIRE award.
For more information visit www.christomlin.com, or follow Tomlin on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
This chill and laid-back Afrobeat/Afrofusion anthem with a unique blend of pop and alternative sounds promises to captivate listeners across the globe.
Raised in the vibrant city of Lagos and Warri, Delta State Nigeria, King Six and Mani Lapussh are establishing themselves as rising stars in the Nigerian music industry. With their distinctive musical styles and undeniable talent, the duo has been making waves with their new release, gaining recognition for their infectious rhythms and soulful lyrics.
Craze showcases the artistic synergy between King Six and Mani Lapussh, bringing together their individual creative energies into a harmonious masterpiece. The song effortlessly blends smooth Afrobeat melodies with elements of pop and alternative music, creating a refreshing sonic experience that appeals to a diverse audience.
Drawing inspiration from their personal love experiences and the vibrant energy of Lagos, Craze paints a vivid picture of love, sex, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. The lyrics tell a captivating story of two souls intertwined in a world gone mad, finding solace in each other’s arms. The irresistible rhythms and infectious chorus make it impossible to resist moving to the beat.
Both King Six and Mani Lapussh are known for their distinct lyrical genius and vocal prowess, delivering powerful and emotive performances that resonate with listeners. Their seamless collaboration on Craze showcases their ability to complement each other’s styles, creating a harmonious blend that is truly magical.
Accompanied by a visually stunning music video, Craze transports viewers into a realm where music becomes a form of escapism. The captivating visuals capture the essence of love and intimacy, adding another layer of depth to the song’s narrative.
As the Nigerian music scene continues to thrive on the global stage, King Six and Mani Lapussh are undoubtedly two artists to watch closely. Their unique fusion of Afrobeat, pop, and alternative sounds in Craze sets them apart, proving their versatility and ability to transcend genres.
Craze is set to become an anthem for lovers of chilled Afrobeat and Afro fusion music, providing a refreshing escape from the daily hustle and bustle. With its infectious melodies and heartfelt lyrics.
To experience the magic of Craze, make sure to stream and download the single on all major music platforms. Stay connected with King Six and Mani Lapussh by following them on their social media channels for updates on upcoming releases and performances.