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Arts & Culture
Your local backstage pass to Northeast Ohio’s music scene. Get to know the talented musicians and community influencers in our backyard.

Backline Cleveland Announces Winners of Its Music Accelerator Program

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Backline
Four artists from the Cleveland area will have help launching their music careers, thanks to being chosen as winners of Backline Cleveland's program that helps undiscovered talent

Backline Cleveland, a gener8tor program made possible by the city of Cleveland and The Finch Group, announced the four winners of its 12-week music accelerator program. Cleveland artists Whitney Chantel, YFL Kelvin, Congrez and SPB Benz were selected to each receive a $20,000 grant to kickstart their music careers.

The program’s goal is to launch the careers of undiscovered talent in the city through coaching opportunities, networking with industry professionals, and collaboration with other artists, in addition to the grant funding.

The Backline Cleveland winners span a range of genres, from Christian-inspirational to rap and R&B.

The four finalists were chosen from 300 total Cleveland-area artists who applied. They are currently participating in the program with Sean Oatz, a Cleveland-based manager and promoter, who heads the Backline Cleveland program.

“We’re gonna blow up somebody, and it’s gonna happen quick. We’re a music city, and it’s time we start winning like a music city,” Oatz said in a Shuffle interview with WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz.

The program required applicants to interview with local and national industry professionals, as well as participate in listening sessions.

Starting Sept. 8, the chosen artists began working one-on-one with Oatz. The accelerator ends Nov. 20.

Cleveland is the third city chosen for the Backline program. It launched in Milwaukee as a way to spotlight diverse, undiscovered talent in the Midwest.

The program is designed to make cities like Cleveland a destination spot for music, while allowing local musicians the chance to collaborate with other artists and start making industry connections outside of their hometowns.

Backline Cleveland is currently headquartered at Glenville CircleNorth, a new mixed-use development located on East 105th Street near University Circle.

Backline will open the first in its series of quarterly music workshops to the public Nov. 7. The free, virtual event will include national industry experts who will focus on the topics of management and A&R.

Backline will conclude with a virtual showcase Dec. 10.