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Philadelphia’s top musicians compete for cash prizes at PHL Live Centerstage

Councilman David Oh tells us how it all began.
Councilman David Oh gears up for the PHL Live Awards show tomorrow night. | Jennifer Logue
Councilman David Oh gears up for the PHL Live Awards show tomorrow night. Jennifer Logue

On Thursday, Dec. 14, Councilman David Oh presents his fourth annual PHL Live Centerstage awards show at The Trocadero. The event concludes a multi-phase, city-wide music competition where local artists are given the opportunity to win cash prizes, recording time and more.

“When I was running for office apart of what I talked about was the importance of the creative innovative economy,” says Councilman Oh. “With Philly’s history as a music city and the fact that music is an equal opportunity employer [rich, poor, college degree, no college degree], if we could provide the opportunity for people who have been struggling to make it, we want to help them.”

His inspiration for PHL Live came from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival.

“I was part of the [Philadelphia] Asian American Film Festival when it was created,” he says. “I thought we could do it like a film festival. We have a website, you submit your music for free, have judges to select the artists and then of the artists selected, they would perform live.”

But without funding, he wasn’t too sure how everything would come together until local music industry leaders heard about the initiative and wanted to get involved.

“Chill Moody and GoGo Morrow got interested. Then Carvin Haggins got involved. Then Joanna Pang (who owns the Trocadero) stopped by and said she wanted to be a venue,” he recalls.

The competition accepted online submissions from artists until Sept. 30 of this year. Judges in each of the 11 categories picked their favorite acts to advance to the live performance phase of the competition at venues like Settlement Music School, Hard Rock Cafe, Kung Fu Necktie, Reformation Lutheran Church, Voltage Lounge, Clef Club of Jazz, Milkboy, William Street Common and World Cafe Live.

Categories include R&B, World, Classical, DJ/EDM, Country/Folk, Hip Hop, Jazz, Gospel and Rock and there’s an additional prize category for People’s Choice, which is decided by an online vote. The winner in each category gets a cash prize of $1,000. All finalists receive a City Council mini-citation, will be featured on the PHL Live website as a finalist and will also have their performances broadcast by iradiophilly.

At the award show on Thursday night, the winners will be announced and the evening will also feature performances from Chill Moody, Laurin Talese, American Dinosaur and The Phonies. The event will be hosted by Frank Knuckles (formerly of The Roots) and Dezzie of Praise 107.9.

For more information, visit: phllive.org.

If you go:

PHL Live Centerstage Awards Show
Thursday, Dec. 14
Doors: 7 p.m., Show: 8 p.m.
The Trocadero
1003 Arch St.
thetroc.com