Upper State Indies celebrate diversity

Second annual awards show staged Saturday night at the Palace:

You've got to give Jimmy Black credit: he knows how to put on a show!

It's all about numbers.

When Jimmy and his wife, Sheridonna, stage the Second Annual Upper State Independent Awards at 7 p.m. Saturday Nov. 8, at the Palace Theater, they'll welcome more than 200 nominees as well as their fans and families.

The Indie Awards will recognize artistic achievement in 29 categories ranging from gospel to reggae to hip-hop. Not only will musicians perform and win awards, so will poets, models and photographers. So will TV, radio and record producers.

"Last year, at our very first awards show, we drew about 250 to the Palace," recalled Black, a local rapper and music entrepreneur a.k.a. Kendric Bedell. "This year, we're hoping for many more. Our mission is to raise awareness about the talented individuals that surround us."

Black estimates that about half his audience comes from Syracuse, while the other half hail from across Upstate New York.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for networking," Black said.

The connections made by attendees often bring together different disciplines. For instance, the awards feature a fashion show along with musical performances by both local and out-of-town artists.

The Indie Awards have drawn comparisons to the Syracuse Area Music Awards, which have been recognizing area musicians for the past 15 years.

"We're like the Sammys because we both promote and celebrate music," Black explained, "but we're different because we acknowledge more than music. We're more diverse in our nominees and awards selections. We're honoring all genres and backgrounds."

Among the Indie Awards' diverse musical categories are alternative pop, jazz, folk, blues, reggaetone, country/bluegrass, international and rock'n'roll. There are three hip-hop categories, one each for male, female and group nominees.

Voting is done primarily online at www.USAIwards.com.

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