As I’ve noted before here at LVU, I first came back to the Lehigh Valley in August of 2014, working as seasonal event staff at Musikfest. Since then, I’ve been a year-rounder at ArtsQuest; a role which has opened virtually every door I’ve had here since returning to Bethlehem that summer after a four-year hiatus.
My responsibilities in this role included working last year’s Lehigh Valley Music Awards Ceremony on March 6, 2016. At the time, Lehigh Valley Underground was six weeks removed from Launch Day. Already, I had begun to feel the fire to push myself, and to build onto this already-burgeoning music scene.
This fire pops up, particularly whenever I see something LVU can be a part of, or whenever I notice somewhere that we can make a bigger impact. It was raging last year at the LVMAs because, for the first time since launching LVU, I felt small. I saw musicians, supporters, promoters, producers, and more walk into the ArtsQuest Center for last year’s ceremony. I saw them mix and mingle during the Preshow, and I realized that I didn’t know anybody. And, as I stood anonymously behind the front desk, wanting to be a part of the conversations in the room, one thought kept running through my mind…
“We need to find a way to be a part of this next year.”
That thought persisted throughout the afternoon and into the evening, as I witnessed award after award and performance after performance. After the night ended, I went home and logged onto social media. There, I saw the polarized reaction to the day’s festivities that exists every year. I saw friends and colleagues support each other, but just as many were arguing – at times, viciously – about the awards, the process, and their overall significance.
So, as a fledgling local music blogger, I felt inspired to write this.
Full disclosure: I hesitated, at first, to hit “Publish” on that piece. Here I was, just six weeks – six weeks – into this whole LVU experiment, and I already couldn’t help but to court controversy. I didn’t know who would read that piece, or how they would react. However, seeing as I had given myself a voice on this music scene a month and a half prior, I felt that it was my duty to use it.
To my mild surprise, it seemed like everyone reacted well, across the board. It very quickly became the most-read piece in LVU’s brief history at the time. Looking back, it’s the piece that put us on the map; it established us as active participants on the scene, complete with thoughts and beliefs. Although I couldn’t participate in the day’s festivities, per se, everything that has happened for LVU since is a byproduct of my observations from last year’s ceremony. That includes this Sunday.
Last year, when I kept telling myself to “find a way” to take part in this event, I remember thinking that I would have been content with a press pass in 2017. I thought it would take a lot more time for LVU to receive even one nomination, let alone eight in our rookie year. I certainly never expected that, this year, I would be responsible for the very Preshow where I felt invisible a year prior. And don’t even get me started on the fact that, for about the past month, our logo has been on three billboards in conjunction with the event!
All of the above is why, no matter what happens tomorrow, I am proud of where Lehigh Valley Underground has come. I am honored to serve this music scene, and beyond grateful that, over the past 365 days, I have had the chance to get to know so many of you, who have given LVU a chance to be your local music source. I am grateful for organizations like the GLVMA and ArtsQuest, for believing and entrusting in us enough to manage the public’s first impression of this year’s event. I am blown away by the support and acceptance that we – and I personally – have received as the new kid on the block.
The truth is, LVU could go 8-for-8 tomorrow. Conversely, we could go 0-for-8. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.
Regardless of the final vote tallies, tomorrow is a day for us all to celebrate how far we’ve come – and how far we’ve still to go, #BuildingBetter together for our music scene.
See you in South Bethlehem!