Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

A Milwaukee radio station is partnering with a grant and educational initiative to provide four musicians with grants and intensive 12-week mentorships.

Radio Milwaukee (WYMS-FM) and Backline will give four Milwaukee-area artists $20,000 each to help them break out.

The Backline artists selected for 2018 are:

  • Soul/pop artist Lex Allen. Allen is this year’s Mary Louise Mussoline Backline Artist, named in memory of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s late former executive director
  • Songwriter, singer and producer Abby Jeanne
  • Alternative hip-hop/rap artist Zed Kenzo
  • EDM producer Crystal Knives

 “Among the many talented musicians who applied, these four stood out to the judges as being most ready to make huge leaps forward in their careers,” Backline Program Director Mag Rodriguez said. “We have already begun helping guide them and connect them to the resources they need at this stage of their careers.”

Radio Milwaukee and gener8tor developed Backline to help Milwaukee musicians succeed, improve Milwaukee’s recognition as one of the country’s most vibrant music cities and assist companies in attracting the young employees they need.

The artists were selected in late July and began working in the accelerator Aug. 3.

Background on the artists is at www.BacklineMKE.org/artists.

Backline received 340 applications from Milwaukee area musicians, bands and producers for the 2018 summer accelerator. As part of the rigorous evaluation process, 20 of the artists were brought into recording studios to produce music in small groups.

Five nationally recognized music-industry professionals from outside of Milwaukee interviewed the finalists and selected the artists invited into the accelerator.

The 2018 accelerator culminates with a showcase performance by the four artists 7 p.m. –

10 p.m. Nov. 16 at Radio Milwaukee’s performance space. Those interested in attending can sign up for the Backline mailing list to be among the first to know when tickets are available. All funds from ticket purchases will go directly to the artists performing.

Rodriguez said the high number and quality of applications confirms that Milwaukee is home to many extremely talented musicians. He said that Backline would provide assistance to other applicants and Milwaukee musicians through its free workshops and one-on-one meetings with staff. Two additional accelerator sessions are slated for 2019.

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