MILWAUKEE -- Summerfest is known for attracting big-name bands. But it’s also a huge opportunity for local talent.
A group of young artists born and raised in Milwaukee made history on Independence Day - headlining local hip hop music on one of the main stages during prime time.
“It’s not necessarily easy to make a living doing music in Milwaukee,” says Webster X, a local rapper on the rise. “But it is easy to get noticed here if you go really hard with your passion. That’s all your really need, is the spirit to do it.”
Webster X opened up for IshDarr, another local rapper getting national attention, at the Briggs and Stratton Big Backyard. And they were surrounded by other local musicians who have that same spirit and passion.
Local drummer and choreographer Christopher DeAngelo Gilbert has worked hard to get here.
“I worked out in Los Angeles for awhile, but Milwaukee is home,” he says. “To be in this position now, of getting more noticed by Summerfest, it’s a great feeling. To represent what you stand for, and make Milwaukee look good as well, is so important to us. We’re making the most of what we have, with people who matter most.”
Sisters Chauntee and Monique Ross, make up SistaStrings. They are classically trained string musicians making a name for themselves here in their hometown and beyond.
“To be here at Summerfest playing a main stage, I’m just really happy and excited about where we are,” Chauntee Ross says. “It’s a lot of work, so it’s great to be recognized, and to be part of something so big at this level.”
SistaStrings, along with singer and flautist Brittany Freeman-Farr (B-Free), headlined the Briggs and Stratton stage at 10 p.m. July 4th with IshDarr - who attended Mesmer High School, and is now shooting a movie with Matthew McConaughey.
“We are all about collaboration, so just being on the same stage at the same time is very monumental, and it shows a lot about how much talent and support we have for each other,” Freeman-Farr says. “It’s nice that people are finally paying attention.”
Riverside high school grad James Julius Anderson killed it on the saxophone, to round out IshDarr’s set.
“I have the opportunity to build something here and that’s why I stay,” he says. “A lot of us get asked all the time, why don’t you go to a bigger city and pursue music. But to be part of building the musical culture of where you’re at? There’s nothing that can touch that.”
Many of these artists are also music and dance teachers, impacting the next generation of local musicians.