The Indiana resident Terrance “Tee-C” Crowell Jr. knows North Texas music. He first began working with artists from the region about three years ago. He’d heard the music of Fort Worth’s Siobhán Linnane, who Crowell Jr. describes as a mixture of Rico Nasty and Doja Cat.
It didn’t take long for him to link up with Linnane, who complained that they were having trouble connecting with booking agents. Soon, other local artists were expressing the same frustrations: they had difficulty booking stages and a tough time finding placement in media outlets. Tee-C saw an opportunity. He would work to elevate their platforms since others weren’t.
He started Groove Child Records in 2020, which now represents Linnane. To further combat these issues, Crowell Jr. came up with the idea of Up Next Music Festival, a one-night event “where artists can showcase their talent, link with up-and-coming clothing brands and media outlets, so they can get to the next level.”
At 7 p.m. on July 30, 30 artists from Dallas-Fort Worth, Tennessee, Florida, and Crowell Jr.’s home state of Indiana will take the stage at Creators Don’t Die in South Dallas. Before the festival’s debut, Crowell Jr. spoke to D about how he curated the lineup, his relationship with “Buss It” producer Sgt. J., and what he hopes comes after the festival.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
D Magazine: Since you’re based in Indiana, how did you build relationships with professionals in Dallas, like Meka Jackson, the owner of Creators Don’t Die?
I met Meka online. I did not know him personally, but he looked out for me. When I first started putting together the festival, I had a hard time looking for venues. He put me in a good position to have it at his venue.
A number of independent artists like Zayland have used this space in the past. But the festival runs from 7 p.m. – 1 a.m. and there are over 30 artists on the lineup. How is the stage going to run?
As far as artists, some have six minute sets, some have 10 minute sets, and our headliners have 20 minute sets. It was a challenge to put everything together for artists. This is my first festival, so I did overbook on the artists, but I feel the set times are going to work out between acts.
Can you explain your choice in headliners? The artist lineup has a good pulse on who is hot in local hip-hop at the moment, especially artists like Yak the Mack.
Yak The Mack is one of my headliners. I feel he has a different style, a different swag. I saw the engagement online with his fans. He has a triple threat quality about him. [He] does fashion, he’s an artist and producer as well. He has a following. I feel it was only right to put him as a headliner.
There’s also an abundance of women, artists like like Asia Kyree and Muriel. Tell me how you balanced the artists, while giving flowers to women in local music.
A lot of women artists in the game are running things. I’m a feminist. I support the women’s movement in the music industry. A few of the women artists are LGBTQ+. They definitely stressed to me, like [LGBTQ+] is something that we are supporting. I chose women artists to headline as well because I don’t feel like they get enough recognition. I wanted to give that light to Asia Kyree, Kemarilyn Chanel, and A.R. The Mermaid.
I’m a fan of women in local hip-hop. Nationally, there is a renaissance of women in hip-hop, so it was a smart move to include women on the lineup. I saw SGT J of 1501 Entertainment is part of the festival. How did that relationship form?
Shadow Oasis, one of my stage managers, linked us. He recently went platinum for Erica Banks’ “Buss It” and, for the past few months, he and I have been working together. His production and his reach within Houston and Texas brings something to the festival.
A common theme throughout your responses is synergy. It’s not only a festival, it’s networking opportunities, it’s elevating artists, it’s promotion.
I feel like that’s what it’s all about. Us keeping everything local, from sponsorships to production managers and security—all of that is in the community. We are giving people jobs. We are making money. That’s all positive. Up Next Music Festival is not a one off. We want this to be looked at as a networking event. We have had over 700 inquiries about the festival from artists and vendors to join. I feel the festival is going to be big for people who are not performing.
Are you going to wait to see how successful this iteration is going to be before you plan a second one?
We are in the works for a second one. In September, we will open applications and submissions to be a part of next year’s festival. The festival will be in Dallas. Next year, it will be a two-day event, instead of one day. We are looking for other cities to bring it to as well. We have had a couple of promoters send in inquiries to be a part of the festival for next year. We will have it in different cities next year, but right now we are keeping it in Dallas.
The festival will be held at Creators Don’t Die on July 30 from 7 p.m. – 1 a.m. Purchase tickets.