The Shape of Music is a video series in which TrackRecord looks at how fans are changing their local music scene.
The back room at Gramps, a local watering hole in Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood, is a sea of twisted braids, flower crowns, woven sandals, and gently waving bodies bathed in purple light.
Tonight, more than 100 people fill the venue for the RnBae showcase, a monthly party dedicated to spotlighting local independent R&B artists.
“We are looking for singers, for people that make music that doesn’t really fit in, and who really aren’t capable of booking into rap shows because it just doesn’t make sense for them,” says Cristina Jerome, RnBae founder.
A mass communications major from Virginia, Jerome moved to Miami after college and immediately jumped into live music circuit. Immersing herself in the city’s thriving underground rap and hip-hop scenes, it didn’t take long for her to notice there was something missing.
“They had rap shows that were in basements and rap shows that were in broke-down warehouses,” she says. But smooth R&B music was either absent or squeezed awkwardly into rowdy rap shows. “So the scene was more of, ‘Hey, if you’re not gonna give me this platform, I’m gonna to do it myself.”
Launched nearly a year ago, the monthly showcase bounced from venue to venue before finding a permanent home at Gramps. A modest cover ensures that everyone who shows up is there for the music, and steady growth over the year shows that demand for R&B shows in Miami is strong. RnBae gets the word out through its blog and social channels, as well as a monthly radio mix hosted by Jerome.
Dubbed the party “where bae comes to vibe,” RnBae has become a sort of unofficial couples night, drawing a crowd of lovers, music fans, creatives, and industry insiders; all night long, attendees snap photos, exchange info, and of course, dance.
Ahead of its first anniversary, the RnBae showcase expanded to a full-fledged concert series in September, with headlining talent, a larger outdoor stage, and a production budget that’s increased more than ten-fold since the project first launched.
“The best part of this position, working with RnBae so far, has been the artists. Just seeing them light up on the stage,” says Shayna-Raye Bernard, RnBae’s creative director. “Because this is mainly about upcoming, uprising RnB artists, alternative artists, soul artists that don’t have a place in Miami.”