Annual Blacklift Music and Poetry Festival set Friday-Sunday

(l-r) Shannon Sanders and Shawn Whitsell

The second annual BlackLift Music and Poetry Festival will take place from Friday, February 22 through Sunday, February 24 and will bring together Nashville for a multi-day, multi-venue experience combining poetry and music as we celebrate the power, influence, and potential of Black culture past, present, and future.

“We are excited to bring the festival back to Nashville. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate and lift the voices and stories of African American artists that have been traditionally left out of spaces and conversations in our communities,” said President/CEO of the National Museum of African American Music H. Beecher Hicks III. “We hope that everyone who joins will feel the power that music and poetry continues to have in breaking down barriers and bringing us together.”

The festival will take place across three days and five venues.

On Friday, February 22, at 6 pm at the Renaissance Hotel, attendees can join the National Museum of African American Music’s (NMAAM) Sips & Stanzas for a panel discussion facilitated by music producer and vocal artist Shannon Sanders featuring Caroline Randall Williams, Shawn Whitsell, and Constance Bynum. The conversation will focus on the nature of artistic development from youth to adulthood and how we all can engage our gifts of creative expression throughout our lives. Attendees must be 18+.

On Saturday, February 23, Southern Word will host the annual Black History House emceed by ‘Rashad tha Poet’ at East Brand Library at 2 pm. New and established youth poets will share pieces commenting on Black culture past, present, and future sparked by their heroes and influences. The event includes a Freestyle Gallery in which some of the city’s top and newest freestyle artists take prompts from the audience and weave them into powerful messages about the past and future.

At 4 pm at Bongo East, Shannon Sanders and Shawn Whitsell offer a blended writing, performance, and feedback workshop as part of NMAAM’s Fine Tuning Master series. Fine Tuning is a master class that consists of instructional, contextual, theory-based lessons and professional development for aspiring artists and vocalists.

At 7 pm, Third Man Books will host Lyrically Speaking, a line-up of rappers and poets making a name for themselves through their mastery of fresh language. The event will feature rappers Tim Gent and Petty, poet Caroline Randall Williams, and spoken word artist Debria Love. Tickets are available for $10 at <>

On Sunday, February 24, at 6 pm, festival attendees are invited to Sunday Night Soul at The Five Spot. Hosted by Jason Eskridge and Lovenoise, the night will showcase Nashville’s finest soul artists at one of Nashville’s hippest venue. Artists include Bammie Davis, Jr. and Friends, Lauren McClinton and Jamiah, and Constance Bynum. Tickets are $10. Attendees must be 18+.

The BlackLift Music and Poetry Festival is presented by the National Museum of African American Music and Southern Word in partnership with Lovenoise, Third Man Books, Nashville Public Library’s Studio NPL, Nashville Public Library Foundation, HCA TriStar Health, The Five Spot, Bongo Java, Tennessee Entertainment Commission, Metro Arts: Nashville Office of Arts + Culture, and the Tennessee Arts Commission.