The Avant Garde hopes to sparks neo-soul renaissance November 20


Chadwick Phillips
Chadwick Phillips (Photo courtesy of Chadwick Phillips)

Neo-Soul music is a genre of music that has seemingly been pushed away as the 21st century progressed, and/or was known as something that was prevalent mostly in the late 90’s. However, there is one individual who wants to make sure this sophisticated form of music is not forgotten about, and is even stepping out on faith to ensure it makes its way back to the forefront of the Twin Cities entertainment scene.

Chadwick Phillips, creator of a Twin Cities-based renaissance arts and entertainment company called “The Avant Garde,” is very passionate about his mission. “We represent every avenue of the arts, whether its music, theater, performing arts [or] visual arts. We want to put a light and a scope on the amazing talent we have in the Twin Cities,” said Phillips.

On November 20, the Avant Garde will host “The New Renaissance” concert at the Amsterdam Bar & Grill to showcase local neo-soul artists in the Twin Cities.

Phillips told the MSR that neo-soul is the music genre that is the main driving force behind what he does. “I [actually] grew up on Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Jill Scott, Bilal, etc. It’s like a lost art,” he said.flyer_print_final-2

The Avant Garde was founded in December of 2014, with a mission to provide great entertainment experiences locally but with an international vision, and to create a platform for maximum exposure for the best local talent.

“The name of the Avant Garde, how it sounds, how it looks, and the meaning of it, it all matches my avenue. It means bringing new and unusual ideas to the world of the arts and being pioneering,” said Phillips

The company recently received a $10,000 grant from the Metropolitan Regional Association Council to assist with different cultural and social events that will take place in between quarterly concerts in 2017. There is also a social event called The Vibeout Suite, which will feature visual artists, along with neo-soul, jazz and ecliptic music. Phillips will serve as host.

The grant is to fund “bands, artists, and other elements,” said Phillips, who serves as producer and curator of his company’s events. “It’s really to create networking amongst our people, to create an environment for us to kick back and vibe in an alternative way of leisure.  It feels good because I used to fund them myself.”

Phillips also relayed how the history of early jazz music motivates his mission. “The Harlem Renaissance and the B-Bop era — what they created is very powerful and inspired me to do what I’m doing,” he said.

“Back in those times, it was actually in style for very well-known Black artists to speak about issues such as racism, [in addition to] how they dressed, how they motivated themselves.”

Another part of his inspiration is to carry on the torch from his family tree. His father is bass player Sam Gill. Gill received his Masters in Music Studies from the University of Colorado, in addition to being one of the longest-tenured African Americans in a symphony orchestra (48 years). He played along such esteemed artists as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Max Roach.

“The older you get, the more it becomes apparent that this is something you have to do.  How can you be a son of someone of like that, and not carry on the tradition?  I have no choice but to do it,” said Phillips.  It’s all about representing the people, representing what’s genuine and who we’ve always been. That’s what the Avant Garde is about — creating history.”

“The New Renaissance” concert on November 20 will be hosted by Phillips with DJ Dan Speak from KMOJ on the 1’s and 2’s. The billing includes music performances by Joe Davis & The Poetic Diaspora, Dahlia Jones, Traiveon Dunlap & Candi and Taylor Seaburg. Spoken word poetry will be performed by S’sence Adams, Pierre Raphael Fulford, Thandisizwe Jackson-Nisan, and J Ottis Powell.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 pm.  You can purchase tickets at Electric Fetus, Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 331 Club and Avenue Eatery.


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