AUSTIN (KXAN) — In what’s been deemed the Live Music Capital of the World, those whose contributions have perhaps laid the foundation have one message: “There is no Austin without US.”
That’s the tagline for the month-long celebration put on by an organization called the Diversity Awareness and Wellness in Action (DAWA).
Where much of Austin’s musical soul is tied to, DAWA will showcase some of the city’s Black musicians at Antone’s Nightclub downtown, from June 8 through the 30 for Black Music Month. The first show will be on a Thursday night. The remaining performances will take place each Friday evening.
“This culture here that Austin celebrates is built off of black culture and black music,” Jonathan ‘Chaka’ Mahone, founder and director of DAWA said.
‘Austin’s best and brightest’
“From blues to rock, soul, hip hop, house, and country, the sonic imprint of Black musicians is indelible,” Mahone said. “We have been here, producing abundantly, but our incredible fruits have not necessarily benefited us directly due to the industry practices in music cities like Austin around the country.”
DJ, promoter, and producer Cecil ‘Starboy’ Lockwood, will be among performers.
“To have all of these amazing artists on the same lineup, every weekend? Stop playing,” Lockwood said.
Some have been given money from DAWA’S Black Live Music fund.
“Those funds, were able to just say, we see you doing your thing, being original giving back to the community,” Lockwood said. “And by giving funds that allows me to know, cool, somebody sees me and wants me to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Black Live Music Fund
The Black Live Music Fund was created in 2020, with the goal of recognizing and attempting to rectify years of racism, and a lack of granted opportunities for Black musicians in Austin, according to Mahone.
Now, the fund has $100,000 worth of ‘Thrive’ grant money from the City Austin’s Cultural Foundation. It will, for the next two years, support Black musicians in small and big ways.
“There needs to be a shift in who benefits most from the work that is created, and the Black Live Music Fund wants to create space for new standards that center the artist/creator,” Mahone said.
According to Mahone, the money will provide funds to help black musicians, promoters and studios sustain their careers, and continue to grow.
Austin’s Cultural Foundation
The City of Austin has vowed to invest in organizations that are deeply tied to diverse cultures throughout the area.
In fact, over the past few years, through cultural funding, the city has awarded millions of dollars to what it calls Austin’s creative community. The Thrive, Elevate and Nexus grants, the Economic Development Department has worked to obtain equity through its funding bank.
‘This is what we believe in’
New and old funding will support black musicians in small and big ways, while using Black Music month as a backdrop to spread awareness.
“We don’t have venues, we don’t have things that support us directly, because largely, it’s been built by other people,” Mahone said. “You have to invest…because if you don’t, then guess what, in a few years, you’ll be looking around, and there won’t be any black musicians in Austin.”
Mahone said DAWA has distributed $240,000 over the last few years through the DAWA Fund. He hopes the continue growing the Black Live Music Fund to help more people.
“This is where we’re at, this is what we’re doing, this is what we believe in,” Mahone said.