With new talent emerging all over the nation, Music Forward aims to partner with the best! On June 19, The Big Easy visited Los Angeles when Music Forward industry mentors Kemic Smothers and Octarve H. Anderson, Jr. from OAKSway Entertainment joined our home office in Hollywood. With them they brought Bringing Down the House alumni from New Orleans, Jake Exavier (Class of 2019) and Dallas Burke (Class of 2018), and OAKSway Entertainment artists Maxxi Bryant and Peblo Da BG. Music Forward sat down with the team and gained important insight into their experiences with Bringing Down the House in their city, as well as what the future looks like for these young artists.
OAKSway Entertainment is an entertainment management firm invested in providing opportunities for young artists to grow their musical presence and build their brand. They have been a Music Forward partner for three years, and as the Chief Operating Officer (C.O.O.) Kemic Smothers said, “this has been a rewarding experience for young artists from not only New Orleans, Louisiana, but all over the nation.”
Experiences with Bringing Down the House (BDTH)
The one word 21-year-old alumni, Jake Exavier uses to describe his experience is “exciting.” Through the program, he learned about artist management, stage production, connecting with other upcoming artists and artist branding. These were all crucial, transferrable skills that he credits helping him to market his own brand, as well as write and perform his own songs. On June 11, Jake released his single, “Upside Down,” and gave the New Orleans audience a sneak peek of the song during his performance at the New Orleans Bringing Down the House showcase. Every day, he works diligently to ensure he gets to where he wants to be in the future, which is being a well-known artist.
Dallas Burke, BDTH 2018 alumni, went from performing in a band called The Tainerz, to becoming a solo artist at just sixteen years old. He claimed that BDTH was a great learning opportunity because he now has the “knowledge of how the music business works.” When asked what it feels like to transition from being in a band to going solo, Burke decided he enjoys riding solo more. “Working independently is great because I have more of an opportunity to drop the type of music I personally want to put into the world.”
Maxxi Bryant, an OAKSway Entertainment artist, is thrilled to be at Music Forward headquarters. She recounted, “I have been living vicariously through Jake, so coming from his experiences and watching him do the showcase, I just think that it is very stimulating…This is the only foundation within my radar that I have seen [provide free access to workshop and performance opportunities]. And of course, once it opens up doors, it opens up doors – you’re teaching, you’re motivating, you’re potentially putting them out there to be seen and that’s awesome.” Growing up in a musically-oriented family, she has always had her heart and soul in music. Maxxi is appreciative of the opportunities she has seen Music Forward provide others – she said, “You give young people the willpower to be themselves.” To further hone her musical abilities, she will be applying to be in the Bringing Down the House Class of 2020.
Words of Encouragement from C.O.O. Kemic Smothers
- “You have to dedicate yourself to your craft in the business in order to be successful and move forward.”
- “I never want to see anyone give up on their dreams, ever.”
- “If you are born naturally talented, never let your flame go out.”
Written By Mariam Boyadjian