in partnership

Upstream Artist of the Week: SassyBlack

We're partnering with Upstream Music Fest + Summit to bring the Pacific Northwest a whole new style of music festival we've never seen. Once a week for the next two months we'll be profiling local artists playing at the Festival, and speakers talking at the Summit - to start getting us all pumped up! If you're not recognizing any names - we encourage you to read on anyways. One of the main goals of Upstream is raising awareness of amazing local bands - that might not be on your radio (yet) - but are worth our time and attention.

SassyBlack is one of more than 200 artists who will be performing at Upstream in Pioneer Square this May. But she's also flexing her musical muscles behind the scenes of the big event. We caught up with her recently in Pioneer Square along with Festival Director Jeff Vetting to check out one of the newly announced festival venues: the spacious AXIS gallery.

"I’m a curator for Upstream!" said SassyBlack. "Which means that I get to put together my own showcase of artists."

Right now, she's already lined up Paris Alexa - a young talent she first discovered at MoPop SoundOff.

"She just really blew me awaybecause she has such a good stage presence, and then her vocals are just out of this world," said SassyBlack. "And then really good song writing skills. So I’m really excited to have her. And then I have some other artists that are going to be coming from out of town. And then some really dope local artists that are just on the scene right now."

Of course, beyond bringing incredible artists to the festival as a curator, SassyBlack will also be playing her own music.

"I released my first album last year ‘No More Weak Dates’ and then I went on to do a lot of touring," she said. "I played Block Party and then I went on tour in Europe which was cool. [It was] my first solo tour in Europe, but I got to headline the whole thing for a month."

And this year looks to be just as jam packed for the artist with a new album on the horizon.

"Now I’m working on my next album, so that’s going to be really cool," she said. "It’s called ‘New Black Swing’. And it’s inspired very much so by New Jack Swing music which is inspired by soul and funk and the merging of hip hop and R&B. That’s something I’m really excited about and I’m actually in the midst of my next tour right now."

And of course she’s excited for everything happening at Upstream.

"My very top most excited thing I’m excited about is seeing Quincy Jones speak," said SassyBlack. "Because I love Quincy Jones. I have a Thriller tattoo. And his artistry and his work as a mogul and just taking his creativity to the next level has always inspired me. From being a musician and an instrumentalist to being a composer, to being a musical director, to being behind 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' and all these other things. He’s worked a lot with a lot of different artists. And I look up to him when I think about artists I’d like to be like. Just someone who’s been able to move with the flow and change and is unafraid and so I’m excited to hear what he has to say."

Upstream is taking place throughout Pioneer Square May 11-13. Tickets are on sale now.