From its industry panels to artist showcases, the team behind the first Jackson Indie Music Week, which ran Jan. 11 through Jan. 17, wanted the festival to recognize the talent and achievements already active in the capital city. Of course, nothing things says “recognition” like a shelf full of trophies, so JIMW was happy to oblige with the Jackson Indie ICON Awards on Thursday, Jan. 14.
The award show took place at Duling Hall and was a tribute to four of Jackson’s music-industry trailblazers: Freddie Young, Arden Barnett, Charlie Braxton and Bebop Record Shop owner Drake Elder.
Young has produced a variety of albums for Jackson hip-hop and R&B artists and was a big player in the local music scene in the 1970s, providing lead vocals for the funk act Sho-Nuff, which featured an ensemble of Jackson music stars, including bassist Sky Chambers, who presented the award alongside Bridget Archer of “Soul Train” and Jackson State University J-sette fame.
Barnett is the show promoter behind entertainment company Ardenland, who also appeared on JIMW’s “Do the Knowledge” panel where he discussed his philosophy on booking events. Ardenland mostly brings national touring acts, which has caused some to question why the company doesn’t do more for local acts. There are already great venues for local artists, he said at the panel, but he saw a niche and knew he could fill it.
Braxton, a McComb native, is an author, poet and music journalist best known for his various high-profile stories for hip-hop music publications such as The Source, Vibe and Murder Dog. In his articles, he often discusses the cultural impact of artists including OutKast and Notorious B.I.G. as much as the elements that made them singularly influential in the music world.
Elder’s name was a surprise addition to the proceedings—JIMW organizers had announced the other award recipients prior to the event—but given his legacy and deep connection to the local scene, his inclusion was more than welcomed. When the owner of the now-closed Bebop Record Shop died on Aug. 14, 2015, at age 62, friends, family and music lovers across Jackson mourned his loss and celebrated his commitment to music. Fellow ICON Award winner Barnett even held a memorial concert at Duling Hall on Aug. 19.