Bethlehem, Pennsylvania — The lineup of headline music acts for this year’s MusicFest Festival and Main Stage at the Allentown Fair is set, and if there’s a theme, it’s diversity.
But perhaps the most telling factor is the amount of rap and R&B in this year’s line-up.
- Music Fest and Allentown Fair complete this year’s main stage headline line-up
- Both offer an atypical amount of rap/hip-hop acts
- Both have said they are interested in offering diverse talent to their audience.
The Allentown Fair runs from August 20th through September. 4 will not only feature the first hip-hop headliner in 30 years, but will also feature two of the five musical headliners: 2000s chart-topping Nelly and platinum-selling rap acts. It is Young Gravy who recorded .
Rapper G-Eazy and R&B favorites Keith Sweat and Monica will perform at the 11-day Musikfest from August 4-13.
It continues a trend that last year brought rappers Ja Rule & Ashanti and R&B group Boyz II Men to the festival, after only two appearances in total as rap artists in the last 15 years.
“There is certainly diversity and there is a show for everyone. We will gather.”
Allentown Fair Marketing & Entertainment Manager Jessica Ciecwisz
“Over the years, the fair has hosted a fairly wide range of music genres,” said Jessica Chekwith, marketing and entertainment manager for the Allentown Fair.
The rest of the lineup for the Allentown Fair is Florida Georgia Line country acts Keith Urban and Tyler Hubbard, as well as classic rockers Styx and REO Speedwagon.
“There’s definitely diversity, there’s a show for everyone,” Chekvis said. “We are very excited to announce and launch the full line-up of shows. Each show in this 2023 line-up of his will have a different crowd each night.”
“We try to be as diverse as possible”
Last week’s Musikfest wrapped up the line-up by announcing the addition of pop-rockers Walk the Moon and Puerto Rican salsa favorite El Gran Combo.
Those announced so far include soft rockers Train, indie pop artist AJR, radio rockers Goo Goo Dolls, alternative country singer Maren Morris, and more traditional contemporary country singers Walker Hayes and Dan + Shay. , and even a comedy appearance with Gabriel Iglesias.
“We try to be as diverse as possible.”
ArtsQuest Chief Programming Officer Patrick Brogan Leads Team to Book Musikfest
“We try to be as diverse as possible,” said Patrick Brogan, Chief Programming Officer of ArtsQuest, who leads the Musikfest booking team.
Brogan said ArtsQuest is pursuing an “annual balance” of Musikfest.
But the last 22 music fests since 2000 (the 2020 festival was largely virtual, with no national headliners) have featured more than 220 headlining acts, among them: Only 17 songs could be called R&B.
That’s less than 8%, or about 4 similar acts in 5 years.
“There’s a subjective part to it,” said Brogan, noting that it was performed by Aloe Black in 2017 and Gary Clark Jr. in 2018. But neither is strictly R&B.
From its inception, Musikfest featured R&B artists such as The Temptations in 1990, The Fifth Dimension in 1991 and Lou Rawls and The Supremes in 1992.
Laps are rarely late
But perhaps the festival’s first hip-hop headliner was Shaggy in 2002, followed by Chingy and Twister in 2004, at the time the smallest paying musicfest headliner in history. was.
Further successes followed with appearances by LL Cool J and Ne-Yo in 2006 and Ludacris in 2007, before Snoop Dogg in 2015 and Run-DMC in 2016 headlined the festival. No new hip-hop act emerged until he took over.
Brogan said one of the hurdles in booking R&B artists is simply the lack of touring artists.
“There are hundreds and thousands of pop artists touring each year,” Brogan said. “It’s just a comparison, it’s not exactly the same.”
But R&B “may not have the depth of headliners in other genres, but it certainly has some phenomenal artists that we are excited to host year after year,” said Brogan. .
“The appetite for R&B has increased over the last five years. …More interest.”
Patrick Brogan, ArtsQuest Chief Programming Officer Patrick Brogan Leads Musikfest Reservation Team
He also said that “the appetite for R&B has increased over the past five years…the interest is even higher,” and that Musikfest is actively seeking bookings for R&B artists.
ArtsQuest, the nonprofit that books Musikfest, “has been talking to Monica’s team for years before the pandemic” and has been trying to book her for ticketed shows at Steelstacks and the Levitt Pavilion, he said. Told.
Monica is best known for her 1998 double platinum hit “The Boy Is Mine.” Her first two albums, 1995’s ‘Miss Thang’ and her 1998’s ‘The Boy Is Mine’, both had triple platinum sales.
“I was looking for a great R&B show and I found it,” said Brogan. “When the joint bill opportunity came up, I thought this would be a dynamic show on the main stage.”
Brogan dismissed the notion that rap doesn’t sell as well at Musikfest as other genres.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say it sells better or less than other genres,” he says. “Every show is different, and it’s hard to categorize shows by genre. A strong rap show works better than a weak pop show.”
He said Musikfest is expected to sell more than 50% of the capacity of the 6,200-seat Steel Stage for Keith Sweat and Monica.
“Today’s Most Popular Genre”
Only recently has Musikfest been reluctant to book country music headliners.
There were no country artists for the first seven years, and only 11 country artists for the first 20 years, until country-pop singer Eddie Rabbitt arrived on the scene in 1991. It wasn’t until 2005 that I offered Keith Urban and Joe Dee Messina in the same year.
This year we have Maren Morris, Walker Hayes and Dan + Shay. This is the highest number ever (2017 and Thailand).
“If you ask any country fan, they’re probably looking for 10-night country,” Brogan said.
“Hip-hop music is the most popular music genre today and the inclusion of artists like Nelly and Yon Gravy ensures that this line-up will appeal to a diverse audience and continue what the fair aims to do each year. We were able to bring an even wider audience to our 171-year-old fair event.”
Allentown Fair Marketing & Entertainment Manager Jessica Ciecwisz
Conversely, when it comes to grandstand headliners, country music is the main force at the Allentown Fair.
Since the 1960s with Eddie Arnold, Roy Clark and the Statler Brothers, the fair has featured some of country and western music’s top artists.
In 1987, Alabama and Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn also participated in their first year offering rap with Run-DMC. In 1995, four of the seven headliners were country: Alabama, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn with Faith Hill, and Reba McIntyre.
It also has a long history of delivering R&B acts, starting with Diana Ross and the Supremes in their Motown heyday in 1967 and The Fifth Dimension in 1971 and 1972.
In the 1990s and 2000s, he continued to book R&B artists such as MC Hammer, Boyz II Men, TLC, and most recently Pitbull in 2014.
However, the fair did not offer rap until 1987’s Run-DMC, and did not offer it again until 1993’s tween rapper Chris Cross.
“When Fair booked an R&B artist, the show did really well,” said Fair’s Cekvish.
“Hip-hop music is the most popular music genre today and the inclusion of artists like Nelly and Yon Gravy ensures that this line-up will appeal to a diverse audience and continue what the fair aims to do each year. We were able to attract an even wider audience to our 171-year-old fair.” event. “
Tickets for Allentown Fair shows are available on the Allentown Fair website and at Ticketmaster. Tickets for the Musikfest shows can be purchased here.