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Adam Blackstone is a multi-faceted bass player, musician, Emmy-winning music director, and Grammy award-nominated artist and songwriter.

Blackstone released his debut album on September 23, 2022, entitled “LEGACY,” and on Saturday and Sunday he performs at his hometown Roots Picnic. On Saturday, he closed his set with MaryMary and Coco Owens.

The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Blackstone about his legendarily unparalleled career in music, the city of Brotherly Love which shaped him, and the best place to get a good Philly Cheesesteak.

Adam Blackstone Has Long Been Amongst the Stars

“Early in my career, I would do the Philly Five Spot and the Black Lily Festival, it was a weekly jam session and you never knew who was coming through. 2002, 2003, 2004, that’s when Philly Neo-Soul was booming. I remember India Arie, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Eric Benét, Erykah Badu, and so many others. That put me on the Philadelphia map for being the go-to guy regardless of who was coming through to make sure the music was right.”

Speaking of Philly’s own, he recalled, “Jill Scott’s first arena tour was a major milestone. Some people don’t realize that moving from a club artist to an amphitheater artist to theater artist to an arena artist is a big big deal.” He explained, “You have to translate your music to 15,000 people as opposed to 700. I think that’s one of the things that I’m proudest of, seeing that relationship grow from artists to musical directors that she along with Maxwell co-led in the city. That’s when I knew soul music was at an all-time high, it was beautiful and organic.”

“Raising up my sons and daughters to be a better me.”

Blackstone effortlessly illustrates the strength of collaboration in the LEGACY album, a who’s who of your favorite musicians, accompanied by Kirk Franklin, Jazmine Sullivan, Leslie Odom, Jr., Queen Latifah, Jill Scott and so many more.

Featuring an emotionally uplifting tribute to an ancestor who himself honorably depicted the ancestors, Chadwick Boseman, the album’s experience continuously offers subtle reminders of what’s most important: Legacy.

Blackstone most recently served as the musical director for both the Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Starring Rihanna and for Rihanna’s epic 2023 Academy Awards performance.

Photo Courtesy: The Purple Group

Blackstone previously won the 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Musical Direction (Pepsi Superbowl LVI Haftime Show Starring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and 50 Cent). Additionally, Adam recently won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album – Vocal. And if all of that wasn’t enough, he’s also “MD’ed” the Oscars.

“As musical director for the Oscars in 2020, it was a huge huge deal because that encompassed every piece of musical knowledge that I ever gained in the last 20 years,” Blackstone said.

“Everything from my scholastic work at college, writing music and composing but then there’s Diddy’s ‘Hate Me Now’ performance and then Reba McIntyre singing song of the year and Encanto was rapped over by Megan Thee Stallion — it was a combination of everything that I had been through. Even from church to playing at a Latin birthday party back in the day to being in the pit orchestra at the Oscars, all of it.”

“I’ve taken from each and every artist that I’ve worked with in the past 20 years,” said Blackstone. “I’ll take a piece of style and a piece of their business acumen or showmanship, it’s helped me because I didn’t see myself in this position only a few years ago.”

The Art(ist) of Storytelling

An artist with intention behind his instruments, Blackstone remarked on the Roots Picnic crowd, “I would love for them to feel the authenticity of my music. I would love for him to feel happy and to gain new perspectives on jazz, soul music and gospel.”

“I am unapologetically myself. Meaning that the album and my artistry encompasses so much — blues, jazz gospel, hip hop, R&B and country,” said Blackstone.

As an artist of multiple musical disciplines spanning nearly two decades, I asked Blackstone if he’s found any particular genre of music that speaks to his storytelling more than others.

Blackstone explained, “They all do it different for me. When I play with Jay-Z, to me, there’s no storyteller like him. But then I go and listen to Jill Scott and there’s no storyteller like her. Then go and play with Reba McIntyre or Tim McGraw and there’s no storyteller like them. And then I’ll do some instrumental and listen to Miles Davis or Derrick Hodge and without even using a word, they tell powerful stories. I think that’s what makes great music actually great, the ability to pull out of it what you need.”

Blackstone Says The Culture Is Back On The Strip

Though a proud Philadelphian with fond memories of South St., Blackstone played it Switzerland when asked where to get the best Cheesesteak, showing Brotherly Love to all.

“I think the experience of being in Philly eating a Philly Cheesesteak allows you not only the freedom to say you’ve done it but there’s nothing like it regardless of where you go in the city. No disrespect to Charlotte, the south, midwest, or the west coast but you can’t replicate a Philly Cheesesteak outside of Philly.”

Biggest, Greatest Thing

A man of faith, Blackstone remembered, “I went to my church the other day, and the singer said ‘sooner or later it’s gon’ turn in my favor’ and I needed to hear that.”

Speaking on his need for duality, Blackstone also kept it a buck, “But sometimes I also need to hear Excuse Me Miss. Music has so many different artful ways of storytelling — for me it all speaks to the soul.”

Blackstone’s debut “LEGACY” album can be downloaded on all streaming platforms.

Catch Blackstone currently touring his “The Legacy Experience” as the opening act for the “Who Is Jill Scott” 23rd Anniversary Tour!

This interview was edited for brevity.

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