BMI is thrilled to have returned in-person to Austin, TX, for the 2022 SXSW Music Conference and Festival. Known for consistently presenting the best in new music from our incredible songwriters, artists and film composers, BMI has been a fixture at the festival for over 30 years and an important source of music discovery. From March 15 -18, BMI curated an exciting lineup of musical showcases, featuring rising talent in Latin music, pop, rock, hip-hop and everything in between. Check out all the events below!
This year, BMI kicked off its return to Austin with its signature Howdy Texas event. The exclusive day party took place at the Saxon Pub, the location of the monthly songwriter series presented by the performing rights organization (PRO). The event featured 6 full band sets and 5 Austin-specific solo acoustic sets and served as a celebration of the third-year anniversary of the opening of the BMI Austin office. Performances included Rhea Raj, KALI, Kydd Jones, THEBROSFRESH, Ben Burgess, Sun Room, Jackson Scribner, Gabe Lee, Chief Cleopatra, Jesse Daniel, and Susannah Joffe. Howdy Texas is sponsored by Topo Chico, Austin Eastciders, Austin Music Movement, Texas Music Office, and ONErpm.
At just 15 years old, the now 21-year-old Rhea Raj auditioned for the farewell season of American Idol. Her performance aired and was praised by Jennifer Lopez, “Your voice matches your vibe, matches how you look… it’s all working for me.” She spent the next couple years toplining major label EDM records, and collaborating with artists, rappers, and producers from around the world. After signing her first publishing deal, Raj was named the 2020 Songwriters Hall of Fame x BMI award recipient. Her singles “Venom,” “Atmosphere” and “MVP” premiered on Rolling Stone, and her music has been featured in BBC Radio 1, Billboard, multiple editorial playlists like New Music Friday, and gone viral on TikTok. In addition to being the founder of Misschief Records, Raj has a unique sound, persona, and international appeal that makes her an artist to watch out for.
Hailing from Los Angeles, 17-year-old singer/songwriter and budding producer KALI released their debut EP CIRCLES in the summer of 2021. Playing every instrument, writing each song, and co-producing the project with collaborator Miro Mackie (St. Vincent, Wallows), KALI established a refreshing sound the merged catchy indie-rock tunes and mesmerizing vocals. Alternative Press called the EP “a window into the emotions as well as the artistry of a precocious young talent”. CIRCLES earned KALI a dedicated fanbase, as well as praise from tastemakers such as Ones to Watch, NPR Music, Pigeons & Planes, SiriusXM Alt Nation, and a spot as one of NYLON’s 2021 artists to watch, to name a few. KALI will be joining Claud on their U.S. tour in March and releasing a highly anticipated second EP in the coming months.
Kydd Jones is a singer-songwriter/producer born and raised in Austin, Texas, and has performed at festivals like the Billboard Hot 100 Fest at Jones Beach in New York, and the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and NXNE in Toronto. After performing at SXSW 2019, he guested on GRAMMY-winning guitarist Gary Clark Jr’s set during week 1 of Austin City Limits Music Festival and was announced a Creative Ambassador for the City of Austin by Mayor Steve Adler. In 2021, Jones performed at Blues On The Green in downtown ATX’s Zilker Park, while releasing a capsule collaboration with the Round Rock Express to honor legendary Austinite Willie Wells and the legacy of Austin’s first professional sports team, the Austin Black Senators. The talented music creator has worked with artists such as Kirko Bangz, Felly, Yelawolf and Max Frost, to name a few.
Hailing from Geismar, LA, a little town nestled between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, THEBROSFRESH provide renewed insight and impact through the creative outlets and spaces that they occupy. Showcasing sounds that pay homage to their R&B/soul, southern hip-hop, and rock upbringing, THEBROSFRESH are establishing a new perspective to what’s “southern” with hard-hitting percussion and aural aggression that meets a smooth sensibility and aesthetic in a way that has never been experienced.
East Dallas native Ben Burgess is making a mark. His song “Whiskey Glasses” achieved one billion streams – a distinction very few country songs can match. Burgess’ song “Y’All Gonna Know My Name” was used by Professional Bull Riding in the 2022 promos for CBS. A prolific songwriter, Burgess has collaborated with a wide array of artists, from HARDY and Kane Brown through Lil Wayne and Diplo, and his music has been used by brands as diverse as Xbox, Lexus, TMobile, MLB and Purina Dog Food. He is currently hard at work on his debut solo album.
With a sound and style brightly bleached by their Southern California roots, indie four-piece Sun Room plays a shiny brand of high-energy rock that is retro-reverent, but with a fresh exuberance that is unmistakably modern. Their single, “Crashed My Bike,” from the Fall of 2021 featured prominently in the Netflix series, Outer Banks, and the band has toured extensively across the country, headlining venues like out Troubadour in LA, Music Box in San Diego, Constellation Room in Santa Ana and Mercury Lounge in NYC. Currently on the road supporting Louis Tomlinson, the band is gearing up to go abroad to support Irish rock band Inhaler on the European spring tour. Their new single, “Clementine,” arrives in early March.
Raised in rural Melissa, Texas, Jackson Scribner grew up obsessed with music from an early age. He learned guitar when he was only nine and spent countless hours playing alongside his Dad and brothers at family gatherings. Being that the virtuosic player is only twenty years old, that doesn’t feel all that long ago. Only in the last year and a half has he put lyrics to his skillful instrumentals, making their timeless appeal all the more prodigious. His precocity — melodic and poetic — pierces sparse folk-rock arrangements, and in turn, a listener’s heart. With emotional precision, he roars and rattles out familiar tales of life so beautifully unspecial: Me and you left when you were sixteen / Hair so wild when you look at me / Take your wheels across the county line / Thousand miles away to that downtown diner / Watch you rise…
With six million streams over all platforms, and 305K on YouTube alone, Gabe Lee made Grady Smith’s list of 2019’s Top 5 Best Under the Country Radar, as well as 2020’s Record of the Year. The same year, the talented scribe was also recognized on Rolling Stone’s Top 30 Best Country Albums, while making it into the final round of Southwest Airlines’ Luck Reunion Artist on the Rise. As a result, he’s supported the tours of Jason Isbell, Los Lobos, Gary Allan, Laney Wilson, and Kip Moore, to name just a few.
Raised in Corsicana, Texas, genre-bending “soul rock” songwriter Jalesa Jessie, aka Chief Cleopatra, always felt like an outsider. It is this outsider status, however, that has carried her all the way to the precipice of something big, with the imminent release of her second EP, Luna, a follow-up to 2020’s S/T and her first on Park The Van Records. The first singles from the record, “Friends” and “Dreamlights,” were released in 2021, garnering praise and prompting comparisons to Santigold. Following the release of the single and video, “Fortuity,” the full EP will drop in early March.
Jesse Daniel possesses the hard-won life experience that many sing about, but few have actually lived. Instead of wearing those trials like badges of honor, he has used them to forge the solid foundation from which he has built his career in country music. After overcoming years of addiction, he set out to make a life in music and hasn't looked back since. This led to his debut in 2018, Jesse Daniel, which proved to be a major foot-in-the-door for him as an artist. After extensively touring this record, he released his second album, Rollin’ On, in 2020. That album received national (and international) praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, Sirius XM Outlaw Country, DJ Shooter Jennings, American Songwriter and Saving Country Music among others. Its success in spite of a global pandemic only highlighted the impact it had. Daniel used the forced downtime of 2020 to write and record his best work to date; a twelve-song album called Beyond These Walls. It’s a love letter to country music in its many forms.
Austin native Joffe is building her name from the ground up in that live-music capital. Her music embodies the grit of Austin’s country-blues roots and fittingly pairs it with the colors of queer pop. This style seamlessly compliments her singer songwriter/indie rock hometown sound. In the past year, Joffe has released a few singles leading up to her EP which will be released later in the spring. Her first single, “Backseat” has reached over 400k streams organically. “My California,” “Halloween,” and “What Next Is About” have also accumulated over 200k streams across all DSPs. With a group of already meticulously crafted songs that give people going through heartbreak a “coping mechanism” as Joffe said, an EP bringing this artist's thoughts, feelings, vocal ability, and storytelling together will be quite the punch.
This year, BMI was the exclusive PRO of the Luck Reunion, an all-day celebration of music on Willie Nelson’s ranch in Spicewood, Texas. The Luck Reunion is a place for cultural discovery, bringing together musicians, artisans, and chefs to create a unique creative experience. This year, BMI curated a writer round featuring Jackie Venson, Suzanne Santo, Kirby Brown, and Aaron Raitiere.
A multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter, Jackie Venson is known for her complexly beautiful music and blazing guitar skills. She’s played to massive crowds both as a headliner and as support for Gary Clark Jr, Melissa Etheridge, Aloe Blacc and Citizen Cope, among others. With the disruption of the pandemic, the cancellation of her tour and the wave of social change sweeping the country in 2020, Venson committed herself to releasing more music than ever, connecting with fans directly and speaking up about the change she wants to see in her city and country. Since then, she’s released four albums, as well as several electronic albums under her side project “jackie the robot.” During the pandemic, Venson also made her national TV debut on Austin City Limits, a huge honor for the native Austinite. Her most recent release, Love Transcends, firmly establishes her as a force to be reckoned with.
Raised in Danville, KY, Aaron Raitiere is one of Nashville’s most respected songwriters with cuts by Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Anderson East, The Oak Ridge Boys, Midland, Shooter Jennings, Brent Cobb, Hayes Carll, and many more. Raitiere also wrote A Star Is Born’s “I’ll Never Love Again” with Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsay and Natalie Hemby, which won Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 62nd annual GRAMMY Awards. His highly anticipated debut album, Single Wide Dreamer, produced by Miranda Lambert and Anderson East, features friends and collaborators Bob Weir, Dave Cobb, Natalie Hemby, Ashley Monroe, Robert Randolph, Foy Vance and Waylon Payne. The twelve tracks exemplify Raitiere’s signature observational writing—sometimes reflective, sometimes irreverent, but always inspired by his own experiences. Ahead of the release, the single “For The Birds” is already out.
Suzanne Santo has never been afraid to blur the lines. A tireless creator, she’s built her sound in the grey area between Americana, Southern-gothic soul, and forward-thinking rock & roll. It’s a sound that nods to her past — a childhood spent in the Rust Belt; a decade logged as a member of the L.A.-based duo HoneyHoney; the acclaimed solo album, Ruby Red, that launched a new phase of her career in 2017; and the world tour that took her from Greece to Glastonbury as a member of Hozier’s band — while still exploring new territory. With Yard Sale, Santo boldly moves forward, staking her claim once again as an Americana innovator. It’s an album inspired by the past, written by an artist who’s only interested in the here-and-now. And for Suzanne Santo, the here-and-now sounds pretty good.
For Kirby Brown, the process of writing is a liturgical one — repeatedly walking around the fences of his own life, looking in to see what's hidden, and trying to make heads or tails of what’s going on in there. His new record, Break Into Blossom, finds him revisiting this process -- searching for the universal within the personal, peeling back the layers of himself and the world around him. As with his own life, the songs are often a synthesis of many varied influences and inspirations in juxtaposition with one another — marriages of both the quotidian and the sacred, the conversational and the poetic, the serious and the playful. Ultimately, they are all roundabout meditations on what’s behind the veil of our seemingly plain human experiences. Sometimes it feels like chaos, and sometimes a bigger picture comes together.
BMI’s Sonidos is the place to discover today’s most promising talent in Latin music, with each year’s showcase more electrifying than the year before. This year’s unforgettable performances included sets by Andrea Cruz, La Doña, Le Coco Ramos, Nancy Sanchez, Salt Cathedral, Wired Sessions and special guest host/DJ El Dusty, whose unique sounds and Latin beats kept the crowd moving well into the early hours of the morning.
A natural songwriter and performer, Nancy Sanchez is also an award-winning vocalist. Born in Toluca Mexico, then making her home in the United States as a young girl, her music is a reflection of two cultures and elements of Mexican Folkloric, Latin Alternative, Pop & Jazz make up in her music. In 2021, Sanchez toured with GRAMMY-winning groups Los Lobos and Ozomatli and was featured as an opening night Performer at FIMPRO 2021 Music Conference in Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico. Her latest full-length album was selected to the BEST of 2020, top 10 songs of 2020 by NPR’s Alt.Latino. (2020), while the song “The Kids Are Still In Cages” from her SAY SOMETHING EP was featured in Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now. She’s also had several songs included in the STARZ original series VIDA Season 3 by show creator Tanya Saracho including her original songs: “Domingo Siete,” “American Novio,” and “Noches de Amor,” with a special guest live performance role in Season 3 finale (2020).
Wired Sessions is a multicultural project founded by LA based chilean producer Juan Covarrubias. With 2 EPs and 3 singles released since its founding in 2019, Wired Sessions has collaborated with artists such as rock en español legend Enrique Bunbury, theremin superstar Carolina Eyck, and Asano Taiko Ensemble, among others. An eclectic project in search of musical adventures and experimentation, Wired Sessions’ new album, coming at the end of 2022, is full of latino energy, world beats and psychedelic electronica. The band’s first EP was featured in Rolling Stone and opened the door for various festivals like Ruido Fest and SXSW in 2019/2020.
Blending Caribbean beats, reggaeton, and hip-hop styles, San Francisco-born Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea composes songs that explore radical brown femininity as La Doña. The Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist grew up performing professionally as a trumpeter in her parent’s conjunto, eventually mastering instruments such as the guitarrón, vihuela, guitar, and Latin percussion. La Doña is now gearing up to release her debut Algo Nuevo EP due March 12 on Human ReSources. Her songs are inspired by love, sex, pain, and climate catastrophes. The project will arrive just ahead of her shows at SXSW and has already received early praise from the likes of The Fader, Billboard, NPR, People CHICA and Remezcla.
Le Coco Ramos is a Venezuelan-born, Miami-based, singer/songwriter whose style and influences span across genres such as R&B, soul, pop, trap, and folk — always drawing on her life experiences. Le Coco signed a deal with Warner Music Latina in 2021. After the success of her debut EP Esotérico, which included the singles “Carajita”, “Dueño” and “Sidebitch”, Le Coco became a sought-after collaborator. Living in Miami, Le Coco embraced performing live. In the past year, Le Coco has performed at shows for Latin Up!, Amazon, Twitch, and Livexlive at the HardRock Miami. Additionally, she performed at Miami’s urban label: Rich Music’s studio, where she was invited to be featured on the Chris Marshall song “Wide Awake.” She is currently putting the finishing touches on her debut LP and working with a team of producer/writers overseen by Luis Salazar and Fuxbeat.
Celebrated for their ability to fuse elements from the vanguard of electronic music, a scope of global rhythms, and Caribbean dance culture, Nico and Juli of Salt Cathedral are a genre-defying NYC based duo. Originally from Bogota, Colombia but having met in the United States while attending Berklee College of Music, they began releasing a series of acclaimed EPs pushing against the pillars of indie rock and Latin music that attracted attention from Pitchfork, as well as fans around the world. For the past year, the group has been releasing a series of singles in English and Spanish, each a singular world, leading up to the April release of their debut album CARISMA on Ultra Music. The new songs and their accompanying videos, which echo the music’s magical realism, have been championed by Rolling Stone, NPR, Nylon, and others.
Born in Puerto Rico in 1994, Andrea Cruz is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter who has been steadily making a name for herself. She released her debut album, Tejido de laurel, in 2017 and went on to tour Mexico and Latin America, as well as play prominent stages at SXSW in 2018 and LAMC in 2018. She made great strides in 2019 with an extraordinary performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk series, as well as releasing the single “Vengole” featuring Gaby Moreno, a stirring song emphasizing awareness of women’s reproductive health. She published a book of her lyrics in 2020, Lo que no fue canción and is currently touring her second album, Sentir No Es Del Tiempo.
Based in Corpus Christi, producer/DJ and nu-cumbia pioneer El Dusty translates the Southern Texas border experience into new barrio anthems where the MPC2000 sampler and chopped clips of Latin music history collide. His 2015 ep, Trapanera, demonstrated a turntablist tradition that linked Latin classics with a new generation of bass-heavy soundsystem and hip-hop cultures and showcased El Dusty’s bi-cultural border identity and the cumbia crunk movement. He dropped his debut LP, Cumbia City, in 2018, and has since expanded on his expertise as a long-time turntablist, genre innovator and formidable live performer.
BMI ended SXSW’s Music Week on a high note with one of the most highly anticipated events of the festival, the BMI Acoustic Brunch. The trademark brunch was held at a brand-new location this year, Geraldine’s at the Hotel Van Zandt. Guests relaxed by the pool as they listened to the musical stylings of John-Robert, Lisa Morales, Myron Elkins, Morgan St. Jean, Sarah Kinsley, YENDRY, and Dende. The BMI Acoustic Brunch was sponsored by Topo Chico, MusiCares, TX Music Office, Truist Financial, Austin Music Movement, Austin Eastciders, High Brew Coffee, ONErpm, and the MLC.
John-Robert is an artist/producer from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. His music has been supported by Mikey Clifford from 5 Seconds of Summer, Ellen Degeneres, and Pharrell and has been featured in publications such as Idolator, Ones To Watch, and The Virginian Pilot. In May 2020, John-Robert released his debut EP Bailey Barely Knew Me, garnering millions of streams and featuring the popular single “Adeline.” John-Robert continues to tug at our heartstrings with EP Healthy Baby Boy, Part 1, as he creates a rich coming-of-age tale about becoming empowered through his journey from small-town boy to big-city singer, songwriter, and producer. “Once you hear his tone, writes American Songwriter, “it’s undeniable that it’s unique, but with a hint of Jeff Buckley’s qualities of honesty and grit. Another extreme is John’s take on art, especially in his music videos. At one moment it could be a ride with Death on prom night, or a de-humanized bondage character searching for love.”
On her upcoming five song EP Rain in the Desert, Lisa Morales once again affirms her stature as a world-class singer-songwriter with a distinctive perspective and a remarkable capacity for looking both inward and outward. The Texas-based artist draws deeply resonant insights from her own experiences navigating the storms of life and making sense of the complex landscape of relationships, and the new project maintains the high standard of emotional forthrightness that Morales established on her prior solo efforts, Beautiful Mistake and Luna Negra and the Daughter of the Sun. When not writing and recording her own songs, Lisa has found time for various outside projects, such as producing and contributing vocals and guitar to Hayes Carll’s debut album Flowers & Liquor, as well as co-writing “Waiting For the Stars to Fall’ for his Trouble in Mind project.
Myron Elkins is 20-year-old singer/songwriter from a small town in Michigan. Raised with small town sensibility and a Country sound informed by Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, flecked with the Michigan flavor of Motown and Bob Seger. In 2021, Elkins toured the country supporting artists such as Marcus King Band, Dawes, Blackberry Smoke, Rival Sons, Lucero and more. He will be on tour again in March with The Wild Feathers, and later in the spring with Lucero. Elkins recently wrapped up recording his debut album with Grammy-winning producer, Dave Cobb, at the legendary RCA Studio A in Nashville. The album will debut later this year on Cobb’s Low Country Sound imprint, in coordination with Elektra Records.
With unfiltered lyrics, jaw-dropping delivery, and head-turning style, Morgan St. Jean graces pop with a whole lot of glamor and grit. Attending USC, she studied pop music and dropped an early composition entitled “Addicted,” which went viral on Soundcloud and HypeMachine. After generating almost 100 million streams independently, her first single “Lola” was a bold debut followed by a cinematic video that premiered in Wonderland magazine. Her new single ’Not All Men, took Tik Tok by storm after going viral with over 1.4 million views in less than 48 hours. She’s gone to #8 on Billboard’s Top 40 in Canada, #10 on Billboard Dance Charts Globally, and Platinum in Canada, while performing in the Lady Gaga x Global Citizens Together at Home concert in 2020. She’s sold out the Troubadour, performed the national anthem for the LA Kings and Dodgers and has received support from iHeart Radio, the Travis Mills Show, and Spotify’s Femme Fatale and SALT, among others. Featured on the cover of Spotif’s Created By Women Playlist, St. Jean now boasts 150K+ TikTok followers with multiple viral videos surpassing 1 million views in a matter of hours.
Sarah Kinsley is a musician as adept at writing as she is at singing, as she is at performing, and as she is at producing. An otherworldly talent, you can join the dots between her earliest singles (2019’s “Wine-Stained Lips” and “Open Your Eyes”), her first body of work (2020’s The Fall EP), and her most recent micro-opus (2021’s The King EP). Confident stepping-stones that flicker like disco floor lights that find Sarah skipping through a range of different colors, textures and tones. From her home studio in Connecticut to her dorm in New York City; hers is ethereal leftfield bedroom pop with heart and soul.
YEИDRY is a singer/songwriter who grew up between the Dominican Republic and Italy. Previously the lead singer of a jazz and electronic band in Italy, YEИDRY embarked on a solo career in 2019. Raised on 90s pop R&B, traditional Latin and electronic music, she has a passion for vocal harmonies, percussions and electronic sounds. Her core goal has always been to draw inspiration from different cultures, mixing in Latin vibes, rhythms and vocals with a modern touch. In 2021, YEИDRY collaborated with J. Balvin, Damian Marley, Mozart La Para and Emotional Oranges. She made her U.S festival debut at Austin City Limits. Her single ‘YA’ was named one of Barack Obama’s Top Songs of 2021. In 2022, she has released “Mascarade,” with Lous and the Yukuza, and recorded an original song for Amazon’s Hotel Transylvania 4. In the coming months, YEИDRY will release her debut album and embark on a global tour.
Dende is a young singer, rapper, producer, and instrumentalist from Katy, Texas. His sound is a mixture of hiop-hop, jazz fusion, and soul. His latest EP, Pregnancy Pack, showcases not only his vocal chops, but also his ability to blend into any genre and make great music. Dende has opened for artists like Swae Lee, Gallant, Bun B, Killa Kyleon, The Suffers and more. Recently he has had his television debut on BET JAMS with a feature on the song “Killing Me Slowly” by Paris Price. Dende has his strongest pull in Houston and Los Angeles and is developing a buzz in Miami, New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta. For his last headline show in Houston at Warehouse Live he sold over 90 tickets not including support sales.