The Austin Music Commission on Monday created a working group to address issues of systemic racism in the city’s music industry, with several commission board members signing on to the group and more to be added.
Commission vice-chair Jonathan "Chaka" Mahone and chair Rick Carney will be joined by board members Paul Pinon, Anne-Charlotte Patterson and Patrice Pike in a group tasked with recommending "actions to take regarding systemic racism," according to the agenda for Monday’s meeting, which featured a presentation by Harold MacMillan of DiverseArts Culture Works. "We will be adding community members as well," Carney noted.
The creation of the working group comes in the same week that ACL Radio premieres its first-ever "Blues on the Screen," a televised music program taking the place of the station’s usual Blues on the Green summer concerts in Zilker Park. After Austin musician Jackie Venson spoke out about the lack of diversity in the lineup, the event was retooled, with an all-Black lineup curated by the guitarist. Venson initially was part of the lineup, but she removed her own slot in favor of performances by R&B artist Alesia Lani, rock band Sam Houston & Blk Odyssy, rapper Kydd Jones and 91-year-old blues great Lavelle White. Blues on the Green had headlined no Black artists since 2016.
"Blues on the Screen" will be televised at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Fox 7 Austin, with audio airing on ACL Radio 97.1 FM. The radio station’s website also will carry the program.
All performances were taped recently at downtown venue 3Ten, with no audience. Last week, ACL Radio released an advance clip from the program — a timely new song from White titled "Keep Your Mask On":
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Last month, American-Statesman music writer Deborah Sengupta Stith moderated two roundtable discussions with prominent Black and brown musicians in Austin, covering systemic racism and issues of representation in the city’s music industry. Jones, Mobley, Mélat and Ghislaine "Qi Dada" Jean (wife and musical partner of commission vice-chair Mahone) participated in the first discussion, which partially focused on protests in the wake of the police killings of Mike Ramos and George Floyd. The second roundtable, held to mark Pride Month, featured out artists Tje Austin Alldredge, Mama Duke and Gina Chavez.