Some could argue that Richmond’s art scene is its best-kept secret. To the local Richmonder, the murals that grace the sides of our buildings everywhere might get lost during your daily commute, but to out of towners like Jabari Graham, they established it was the perfect city and environment to host the touring arts and culture event he founded, Art, Beats and Lyrics.
Art, Beats, and Lyrics, opening tonight at the Main Street Station, is a “nationwide cultural experience and exhibition,” according to Graham. The 2001 Jackson State alum founded the exhibition in 2004, hoping to bring his love of art and music together in one. Graham drew an audience of 300 in the first year, but has since partnered with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and taken his event national, packing stadiums across the country. Art, Beats, and Lyrics has even been credited with bringing acts such as Drake and Kendrick Lamar to Atlanta, Georgia, for the first time.
“I’m good at seeing what people gravitate to and putting it out there for everyone,” said Graham, who got his start in event planning and logistics at UniverseSOUL Circus. After he was laid off, he decided to use his skills to venture off on his own and wrote down an idea that had been brewing in his brain, which became the foundation for his art and music exhibition.
“You can’t be afraid to take a risk on anything. If you can think of it, put it in writing and pitch it to the right people to get funding, or if you have the funding yourself, it’s satisfying to see it come to fruition,” he said.
Although Graham is an Atlanta native, coming to Virginia is almost like coming home; his mother is an alumna of Virginia State University, and he has family in Newport News. In addition, he has been sure to build relationships with local artists who will be showcased Friday night, including Earl Mack, along with other talented artists from around the world. With the relationships he’s building, coupled with the southern hospitality that he has been receiving from movers and shakers in Richmond, Graham is thrilled to bring his show here, especially with the premiere of light boxes that will be showcased for the first time.
“I’m ready to rock and roll, and give people a push to start their own movement as well. Whether it gives them that ‘umph’ to produce more art that can be showcased through events like this, or motivates them to start writing that business proposal they’ve been dreaming of, I’m hoping that this event can encourage that,” he said.
The event is tonight, September 21, at Main Street Station. All art on display will be available for purchase, including originals and prints. Tickets are free, but an RSVP is required.