Newark is set to become a new music mecca


Solidifying the Garden State as a major player within the entertainment business

On August 26, 2019 Newark and the State of New Jersey made history for hosting the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center. Everyone from Governor Phil Murphy to Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment had been pushing for this to illustrate the music history of New Jersey. They were able to solidify the Garden State as a major player within the entertainment business.

Looking back, it appears to have been accomplished. Some of the biggest names in the music industry began to flock to the brick city. Following the MTV VMAs, straight off their induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Zombies performed an intimate showcase in conjunction with an interactive Q&A at The GRAMMY Museum Experience at Prudential Center.

Angelique Kidjo
Angelique Kidjo

Later that same week, celebrating the release of his 11th studio album Father of Asahd which became the #1 Most-Streamed Record upon release, DJ Khaled took part in a personal discussion with fans at The GRAMMY Museum. When prompted by an alarmed Newark teacher who was passionate about expanding the music education program within Newark’s deteriorating school district, DJ Khaled went as far as to have his assistant obtain the woman’s contact information to potentially have one of his artists visit Newark’s schools.

Within the past several weeks, The GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center has hosted an array of intimate “An Evening With…” events where attendees interact with their favorite musicians. They are able to see them perform and partake in a special discussion and Q&A. And all this at low ticket price typically not exceeding $40 per ticket. Everyone from three-time GRAMMY award-winner Angélique Kidjo, to award-winning poet Kate Tempest, to dancehall sensation Spragga Benz have partaken in the community-oriented happenings. This week, Newark welcomes A-List songwriter (Cheat Codes, Demi Lovato, Charli XCX) turned sold-out headliner tallying over 1.5 billion cumulative streams, Lauv. Later this month, Newark will welcome The Smithereens to celebrate their entrance into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Spragga Benz
Spragga Benz

With the museum aside, on a larger scale, the Prudential Center has been accruing acts that typically frequent stadiums. This includes both former First Lady Michelle Obama, and New Jersey natives the Jonas Brothers, both are set to headline the venue for shows in November.

The state formerly typecast as the armpit of the nation, and the city which was once ranked the murder capital of America, is now at the center of a crossroads. It is no longer in the shadows of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey, and its largest city Newark, are undergoing a rapid renaissance, coming into their own as a new music industry haven. Mark Conklin, the Director of Artist Relations for The GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center, recently said that he could foresee The GRAMMYs being the next major awards show to call New Jersey home. A transformation, and vindication, if ever so deserved.

Watch DJ Khaled engage in a fan-oriented discussion hosted by Mark Conklin here. And watch The Zombies perform their classic record-breaking single “Time of the Season” here.