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Free music festival highlighting marginalized artists is coming to Boston

The Boston Arts and Music Soul Festival, meant to provide equal access to music and the arts, will be coming to Boston in late June.

Catherine Morris, the founder, curator and executive director of the BAMS Festival, said she coordinated the event because minority communities in Boston do not have their fair share of music or full access to it.

“The mission of BAMS fest is to break down racial and social barriers to arts and music for marginalized communities of color,” Morris said in an interview. “We want to make sure that the arts and music is accessible to everyone.”

The music festival is meant to be free to the public, but that requires financial support from the community. Morris said the organization is hoping to raise $150,000 by April, and even though the event’s Indiegogo fundraising page shows them well off their goal, Morris said she is confident the money will be raised. If the full extent of the funds aren’t raised, the festival will continue on a smaller scale.

Luke Olsen, 32, of Brighton, said he agrees minorities aren’t justly represented in mainstream music.

The music industry will take music from smaller minority groups that don’t really have a pedestal and make money off of it,” Olsen said.

Clara Sandrin, 22, of Downtown Boston, also said Boston should take steps to increase the presence of minority musicians.

“We can always do better when it comes to minorities being heard,” Sandrin said. “Areas where the music made by minorities can be heard more, like Roxbury and Dorchester, [don’t have] enough venues.”

Karl-Lydie Jean Baptiste, media coordinator for BAMS Fest, wrote in an email that as a person of color, she hopes BAMS brings to light the creative works of her fellow minority artists.

“There are people of color all over the world — not just in Boston — who are creating great works, but they have no spotlight,” Jean Baptiste wrote. “It’s not until someone with a platform and wide reach mentions them that the world may start to take notice. BAMS Fest, Inc. is trying to be that spotlight here in Boston.”

BAMS Fest was recently the recipient of a Boston Cultural Council grant, and Morris said she is pleased with their BAMS merchandise sales.

Morris said her family is the largest inspiration for BAMS Fest. For her love of music, she thanks her mother.

She kept my ear to the ground about different types of music,” Morris said. “And so I am appreciative of the funk music era, the soul music, era of Gospel rap, hip hop, [rhythm and blues and] a capella. All those styles of music have given me inspiration for [BAMS].”

For her desire to help people from marginalized communities, she thanks her father.

“He treated everyone [with] the same with respect and understood who they were,” she said. “The way that he used paints to articulate thought and energy and mood has always resonated with me.”

Morris said that in developing BAMS Fest, she was thoughtful to include different generations, like that of her mother and father.

“We want to understand all those dimensions that create a good festival and allow for the greatest possibility of collaboration, of bringing together different generations and looking at genres of music and styles of art,” Morris said.

With awareness to the largest minority communities in Boston, BAMS Fest will be held at an epicenter of vibrant culture. The festival will be at Franklin Park, a green space that connects several of Boston’s urban neighborhoods.

“The history of [Franklin Park] has touched so many different lives, whose stories we don’t get to hear all the time,” Morris said. “So hopefully this festival will bring all those generations together and people can start to share their stories and memories of Franklin Park.”

Alexander Robertson, 25, of Downtown Boston, said he thinks events like BAMS fest will contribute greatly to the overall music scene in Boston.

“Musical festivals bring a communal place for people to come together and have something to talk about, perform in, work on,” Robertson said. “It’s a pretty unique group of people [that music festivals] tend to bring in.”


CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated the festival required all $150,000 to throw the festival. The festival will still happen if the funds aren’t raised, but just on a smaller scale. The headline also previously stated the festival may be coming, but it will be happening. An updated version of this article reflects this correction.

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