?We try to find the hottest acts? 

For the past six years in a row, Savannah radio station E-93 has thrown what is arguably the largest R & B and Hip-hop show in the area. Known as the E-93 Jamz, this annual event brings in a handful of rap, soul and dance music artists whose regular tour schedules would likely never bring them through town.

This year’s lineup is typical of the event, as it once more finds established acts appearing alongside young artists who appear just on the cusp of breaking through into bigger markets and greater fame and fortune.

Assistant Program Director Kenya Cabine says that mixing these two types of performers is one of the keys to providing an exciting concert that can appeal to a wide cross section of the public.

“A lot are out on summertime promotional tours,” he explains. “We try to find the hottest ones right now.”

This year’s lineup includes the recently reunited headliners Goodie Mob, Truth Hurts, Holla Point, Tamia, Houston and The Roc-A-Fella All Stars which consists of Anthony Allen, Rell and Nicole Wray – all of whom record for Jay-Z’s label Roc-A-Fella Records.

Cabine says that he and others at the station are always bound by who happens to be available on a given weekend – which can be a little rough, seeing as how there’s a similar event happening in Atlanta the next night and another in Texas a few days later, which all compete for many of the same stars – but that an awful lot of thought and planning goes into selecting each year’s bill.

“We aim for artists who have brand-new singles out, or whose album is doing well on our station. For instance, Tamia has been in the business for years. She actually got her start with Quincy Jones. He discovered her. A lot of people are coming out to see her. She’s a Grammy Award winner and is married to Grant Hill, the basketball player, so she’s very popular.”

Cabine also says it’s important that E-93 do their best to try and further the careers of up-and-coming artists that may one day remember that help and owe them a favor.

“Last year we did that with Chingy, and you see how that turned out. Now he’s a multi-platinum Hip-hop artist. We go for the ones we feel are right on the verge of blowing up.”

So, has Chingy sent his thank you note to the station yet?

“No, no, no,” Cabine laughs. “No thank you notes! He does want to come back, though, because last year we got caught in the rain and they couldn’t play. That’s one of the main reasons we’re holding it inside this time. In the past we’ve had it in Forsyth Park and in Grayson Stadium, but this time around we want to avoid any problems with the weather.”

He says it’s only fitting they’re holding the show at Savannah State and he feels the Tiger Arena will afford them better stage lighting and sound than they’ve had in the past. He also seems sure the show will be well attended.

“Well, the room seats 5,500 people,” he offers, “and based on past years’ attendance, we’re expecting about 3,500 folks to be there.”

And, unlike many local rap and hip-hop shows, you won’t have to be 21 to get into this alcohol-free event.

“There’s no age limit,” Cabine explains.

“There won’t be any cursing whatsoever. We make sure that the performers know that it’s a family show and that there are church organizations and little kids there as well. We have people who come out with their infants all the way to people in their sixties.

“We’ve been doing this for a good number of years now, and the community knows what to expect from our Jamz.”

In addition to the nationally-known acts on the bill, E-93 also sponsored a contest to determine which regional unsigned artist would nab a sweet slot at this high-profile showcase.

“We had tryouts this past Saturday at the Main Street YMCA,” he recounts, “and they came from everywhere! Vidalia, Brunswick, Athens, everywhere. The auditions were long and grueling, but there was some great talent there.”

While the grand prize winners had yet to be announced by our press time, they will also receive a cameo spot on the next single from Rome, a rapper signed to the local label Pure Pain Records.

Cabine says he personally is looking forward to Goodie Mob and Tamia’s sets, but notes that there’s a lot of good buzz in general about the entire concert.

“Man, everybody around town is talking about this show,” he muses. “Everybody wants a ticket.”

Fri., 5 pm, Savannah State University’s Tiger Arena. Tickets are $6 in advance or $5 with an E-93 All Access Card, and are available at the Savannah Civic Center, Lester’s Florist, E-93, and all usual outlets.

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Jim Reed

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