SXSW Hosted Its First Official Asian-American Showcase, And it Was Dope
SXSW concluded last week, and it was as epic as fans expected it to be.
Hundreds of artists performed throughout the week long event, but this year was special for a very talented yet often overlooked group of musicians. As NPR reports, SXSW hosted it's first official Asian-American musical showcase on Thursday (Mar. 16) in the upstairs lounge of a local barbecue restaurant in downtown Austin, TX.
Kollaboration, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes Asian-American creatives, produced the showcase that consisted of five amazing act's including Run River North, Megan Lee, Big Phony, Reonda, and Melissa Polinar.
All of the artists expressed their gratitude for the special showcase at some point throughout the night. Songwriter and pop singer Melissa Polinar explained how special the night was for her on stage during her set.
"They were a little confused with what to do with me, in terms of the industry," she said. "There's this guy who came up to me after my first showcase [and he said], 'Okay, so, you grew up in Texas and you're an Asian that sings like a black girl that is now writing in Nashville.' So, as much as people say 'we'll embrace who you are and your uniqueness' — now, it's a huge movement, but back in the day, I didn't really have that support."
Polinar then started to cry as the crowd cheered her on.
"Tonight is just kind of like a cool little thing," she said a little chocked up. "A lot of people have backed me and believed in me and what I do — not because I'm an Asian chick, but because I sing and write songs."
Reonda, another singer-songwriter, told NPR she appreciates Kollaboration for making this opportunity possible.
"Without them, I wouldn't be here," she says. "You know, I think South by [Southwest] is diverse — like they have Japan night, Taiwan night. But there was never anything for Asian Americans, which is kind of — I don't know why that was missing."
Megan Lee, a R&B/Pop singer-songwriter, invited all of her fans to come out and show love for her and the rest of the artists performing that night via social media.
Kollaboration's Global Executive Director, Christine Mini Chang, was very pleased with the turnout of the showcase and believes it served it's purpose.
"There has been a very long-standing history of invisibility and narrow representations of Asian Americans in media," Chang told NPR. "That's exactly what the organization was looking to change with its showcase."