St. Louis Culture: Where Graffiti Meets Groove, Breakdancing Blends with Jazz, and Deejaying Dances with Humanity
In a resounding celebration of music’s timeless power, the vibrant city of St. Louis recently served as the epicenter of musical ecstasy during the 2023 edition of Music at the Intersection. Nestled in the heart of the Grand Center Arts District, this annual extravaganza unfolded over two days, welcoming music enthusiasts from every corner of the globe for an experience that defied boundaries and blurred the lines between genres, generations, and musical eras.
The festival’s headline act, none other than the legendary Grandmaster Flash, took to the stage, reaffirming his rightful status as the “Founding Father.” An icon of hip-hop whose influence has rippled across generations, Flash ignited the crowd with his timeless beats, a testament to the enduring impact of his artistry. His performance set the stage for an event that would pay homage to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, reminding us of the genre’s profound legacy.
Music at the Intersection is renowned for its diverse lineup, and 2023 was no exception. The festival’s stages bore witness to a fusion of iconic figures such as Angela Winbush, Arrested Development, Cameo, Herbie Hancock, and Taj Mahal, seamlessly blending with the rising stars of today, including Masego, Phony PPL, Ravyn Lenae, Smino, and Thundercat. It was a harmonious collision of hip-hop’s storied history and promising future, where musical worlds converged.
Injecting a hearty dose of funk and groove into the mix, the collective genius of Snarky Puppy and the irresistible vibes of The Suffers and Tank and the Bangas had the audience grooving well into the night. These performances transcended genres, underscoring the festival’s commitment to showcasing music’s kaleidoscopic facets.
St. Louis jazz legends Denise Thimes and the Kendrick Smith Quartet delivered awe-inspiring performances, invoking the city’s rich musical heritage. Their presence was a living testament to the festival’s mission of celebrating St. Louis’ indelible mark on the American songbook.
Trumpeter Keyon Harrold brought his unmistakable “no place like home” energy to St. Louis, joining a roster of music heavyweights at Music At The Intersection. Backed by the incredible Shedrick Mitchell on keys, the dynamic Pharoahe Monch & Stout setting the stage ablaze, and the masterful Charles Haynes on drums, Harrold’s performance was a living testament to the unifying power of music across genres. His words resonated deeply: “It’s the 50th year of hip-hop, and I am bringing Pharoahe Monch with me – who is a legend. I am bringing Stout with me. We are going to merge the worlds – hip-hop meets jazz.”
Beyond the infectious beats and irresistible rhythms, Music at the Intersection was a testament to St. Louis’ profound impact on the music world. The festival transcended boundaries, spanning blues, jazz, soul, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, and hip-hop. It was a vibrant celebration of St. Louis’ musical, cultural, and artistic legacy.
A historic moment was etched into hip-hop’s annals as both radio personality Edie “Lady Edie B” Anderson and “Gentleman” Jim Gates, WESL DJ and station manager, were honored with a Legends Award. Anderson, a trailblazer who introduced hip-hop to St. Louis radio by playing “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang in 1979, and Gates, credited as the first radio executive and DJ to put rap on the airwaves, rightfully received the recognition they both deserved. Their pioneering spirit ignited a movement that shaped the city’s music scene.
Chris Hansen, the visionary executive director of Kranzberg Arts Foundation and chief producer of Music at the Intersection, beautifully encapsulated the festival’s essence: “St. Louis artists have birthed and stewarded these great genres, and now, the rest of the world gets to enjoy playing and listening to the music that we’ve been so instrumental in breaking.” The event undoubtedly realized its vision of uniting music lovers from around the globe.
Music at the Intersection 2023 was more than a festival; it was a musical odyssey through time and genres, a celebration of St. Louis’ enduring influence on music, and a testament to the unifying power of the art form. As the festival concluded, it left an indelible mark on the hearts and souls of all who attended, serving as a poignant reminder that music, in all its glory, truly knows no boundaries.
Photo Credit: Antonio T. Harris, Tyler Small, Martell Stepney, Phillip Hamer, and Anthony Patten. Courtesy of Music at the Intersection