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Monday, June 17, 2024

Summer Celebration Highlights

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While many of Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration events went off without a hitch, tongues are wagging about the Music Heritage Festival Concert featuring Keyshia Cole, KEM and Chrisette Michele that went haywire.

Sources say concert goers were angry and disgruntled well before the concert began due to issues with the seating arrangements. This year the concert was held at the Indiana Convention Center’s Sagamore Ballroom, instead of its normal home at Conseco Feildhouse, leaving scores of seats unmarked.

“IBE has to take full responsibility, it’s our event. We can’t dodge that bullet at all,” Tanya Bell, president and CEO of Indiana Black Expo.

This year all of the Summer Celebration youth events took place at Conseco Fieldhouse due to the upcoming demolition of the RCA Dome.

During a recent interview with staff at Indiana Black Expo and the promoter of the event, organizers took full responsibility for the issue, but also stated that they put full trust in the Convention Center.

“When we and the Convention Center put the plan together, we discussed how people were going to sit and how we’re going to sell the tickets. It didn’t happen,” said Bell. “When people showed up, they were told they could sit wherever they wanted to sit and that was the mistake.”

While concert promoter Dwight “Slack” Fortune agrees the Convention Center was at fault, he claims that as a promoter it’s not a part of his checklist to make sure seating is correct. Once Fortune got word of the audience becoming livid about the mixup between VIP seating and non-VIP seating, the promoter states he made the decision to solve the problem by bringing out additional seats and starting the show.

First on the roster was soul singer Chrisette Michele followed by R&B crooner KEM. After both singers completed their time, there was another delay due to headliner Keyshia Cole bringing faulty equipment.

Fortune says Cole’s “inexperienced” stage team brought a piece of equipment storing items of music such as background vocals and extra instruments that weren’t technologically compatible with the item IBE purchased for the concert.

Not only were there problems with the equipment, Cole, who was scheduled for sound check at 2:30 p.m., arrived around 8:30 p.m. Cole’s stage team also had the “mystery” piece of equipment in their possession leaving no time to properly install and check the machinery.

When asked was there any way Cole’s management team could be contacted, Fortune stated, “Keshia has less than stellar management in her camp,” alluding to a strained relationship between the two entities.

In a recent interview, Universal Music spokeswoman Tresa Sanders stated Cole was late due to weather related-flight delays. After her late arrival, Cole was “waiting for (the sound crew) to get its act together.”

As a result of seating mixups, long delays and a hurried performance by Cole, concert goers began to chant “refund” after a night of confusion. Bell states her staff has yet to debrief and discuss all of the mistakes during the Music Heritage Festival Concert. While there may be some incentive given to angry attendees by IBE, Fortune disagrees with special considerations being made to “technical difficulties” and states IBE did everything within their control.

Despite the promoter’s opinion, Bell and other IBE staff want Summer Celebration supporters to know they take their established credibility very seriously, and assume responsibility despite the finger-pointing and lack of communication.

“We hope the public will be forgiving of what happened,” said Denise Herd, vice president of sales and marketing at IBE. “We fell down, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get up and bring something stellar (in the future).”

Herd said concert attendees can e-mail questions and concerns to marketing@indianablackexpo.com. Attendees can also e-mail Fortune at slack@slackenterprises.com or visit www.slackenterprises.com.

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