National conference set for next week
June 28, 2007
By Meredith McIntosh and George Mauzy
What could prompt organizers of a national conference on urban music to hold their annual gathering on the edge of Appalachia? A spokesman for the Hip Hop Congress says in the case of the group's event next week in Athens, it was the reputation of the local chapter that sealed the location.
The Sixth Annual Hip Hop Congress National Conference is planned July 4 through 8 at Ohio University. The conference provides Hip Hop Congress chapters and hip-hop artists an opportunity to come together to discuss issues related to urban music. While most daytime activities in Bentley Hall or Baker Center are limited to conference registrants, outdoor and evening performances on each day can be attended by the public.
"We chose Ohio University to host the conference because its local chapter has been one of our most successful chapters, and we wanted to honor its efforts," said Aaron Berkowitz, public relations chair for the congress' national board. "I'm really excited about this year's conference because it provides our constituents an opportunity to re-energize each other and make plans to move forward."
The conference will include discussions on how the hip-hop network can continue to develop and offer economic and social opportunity to independent artists and cultural producers in performances, education, digital distribution and other areas. It also will feature workshops on hip-hop and education, women in hip-hop, the recording industry and youth violence. The congress also sponsors a program that helps artists take advantage of industry opportunities without losing rights to their music.
Martha Diaz, president and founder of the Hip Hop Association, will serve as keynote speaker. She is an educator, organizer and filmmaker with a decade of media production experience. She holds a bachelor's degree in communication with a minor in television and film production from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
"The conference agenda is focused on ways to integrate hip-hop into the educational curriculum," said Akil Houston, an Ohio University visiting professor of African American studies and adviser to the Ohio University Hip Hop Congress. "That is an area that Martha Diaz focuses on and has done a lot of work in."
The Hip Hop Congress is a nonprofit corporation with an international scope, and its chapter program includes more than 50 groups in communities, universities and high schools. The chapters work to promote hip-hop music in their areas by producing or sponsoring more than 200 events each year.
Also planned are nightly performances of hip-hop music and poetry in various Athens venues. Among the performers are Mykill Miers, Dlabrie, The Chicago Community Collective, DJ Roosevelt Treasure Chest and Blueprint.
Registration for the conference is $30 and includes access to all daytime conference events and a shirt. To pre-register or get more information, visit www.hiphopcongress.com.
Artists will perform in the more public aspects of the event at these times:
- 2 p.m. July 5-6, West Portico of Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium
- 2:30 p.m. July 7, West Portico
- 9:30 p.m. July 5, Casa Nueva
- 10 p.m. July 6, The Union
- 10 p.m. July 7, Casa Nueva