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Three Memphis innovators part of South by Southwest

After two years of disruption by the pandemic, South by Southwest Conference and Festivals makes a full in-person return from March 11-20 to celebrate the convergence of technology, film, business and social justice.

The Austin, Texas-based festival brings together creatives and industry leaders to participate in a variety of events including conference sessions, keynote speakers, film festival screenings, film festival showcases music, comedy festival events and contests.

Here are three innovators making an impact in Memphis, which will be showcased at SXSW this year.

Memphis indie rock band Blvck Hippie will perform at South by Southwest 2022, a festival and conference celebrating leaders in music, art, film entrepreneurship, social justice and innovation.

DIY “sad boy indie” rock band Blvck Hippie will bring their post-punk sound to the SXSW Music Festival. The band is led by vocalist and lead guitarist Josh Shaw, and he will be joined on stage by Casey Rittinger on drums, Celest Farmer on guitar and Tyrell Williams on bass. Blvck Hippie released their debut LP, “If You Feel Alone At Parties,” in September and have just completed a nationwide tour.

Shaw’s musical influences include Kid Cudi, Kanye West and The Strokes – artists whose fearless innovation and vulnerable lyrics are perfectly present in the music of Blvck Hippie. He also credits Memphis as a place that helped shape his work ethic as a groundbreaking independent artist.

“I feel like that makes me a serious urban artist,” Shaw said. “Memphis, I feel like I’m always the underdog. I feel like as an artist, it made me work twice as hard and kind of pushed me more because I have to put Memphis on the map to some degree, and I feel like we’re getting overlooked a lot.”

Times for the music festival have yet to be announced.

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Kayla Gore

Kayla Gore leads participates in a PRIDE rally that began at Overton Park on Sunday, June 14, 2020 in Memphis, Tennessee.  The protest was part of ongoing protests in the city following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

In 2016, Kayla Gore founded my sister’s house, a trans-led nonprofit that provides health advocacy, fair housing, career resources, and community space to primarily transgender women of color in Memphis. She is also the Southern Regional Organizer of the Transgender Law Center, the largest national trans-led organization that defends, protects and advances the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people across the country. She is currently the chair of the Tennessee Transgender Task Force with the Tennessee Department of Health.

At SXSW, she will speak at a panel titled LGBTQ+ Sex Education for Brands, a discussion on how brands can make respectful, intentional, and informed decisions when marketing to LGBTQ+ communities.

The panel will be from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on March 16.

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Lawrence

Lawrence Matthews, under the name Don Lifted, incorporates hip hop, alternative rock and electronic music to create an ambient and introspective investigation of love and self-determination on his latest album, “325i”. The album was released in October under Fat Possum Records based in Oxford, Mississippi.

While his music has captured the attention of national music publications, Matthews also won “Best Hometowner Music Video” at the Indie Memphis Film Festival for his song “Brain Fluid”, directed by Nubia Yasin and Josh Cannon, showcasing his talent and vision as a multidisciplinary artist.

Matthews is also the gallery director of TONE, an art gallery and non-profit organization dedicated to providing platforms for black creatives in Memphis.

In an Instagram post announcing he would be performing at the festival, Matthews said he was so excited he “almost made Winchester donuts when I got the email.”

Times for the music festival have yet to be announced.

In-person and virtual festival passes are available at www.sxsw.com/attend/.

Astrid Kayembe covers South Memphis, Whitehaven and Westwood. She can be reached at [email protected](901) 304-7929 or on Twitter @astridkayembe_.