Editor’s note: Watch for videos of drummer and bandleader Ramone Malone and spoken-word artist Bobby Drake, who also will be performing at the Black Arts Festival.
Blues multi-instrumentalist Pierre, who goes by his first name only, is performing with his band at the inaugural Black Arts Festival at the Wisconsin African American Women’s Center, 3020 W. Vliet St., on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The three-day festival, sponsored by the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, will include live performances from spoken-word artists, dancers and musicians, as well as vendor displays and interactive activities.
For several years Pierre hosted jam sessions at Caroline’s Jazz Club, where he was the youngest musician to perform with his own band. There he met Linda Cooper, marketing and sales coordinator of the Black Arts Festival, and they became friends. Cooper reached out to him to host a jam session at the festival.
Cooper described Pierre as a “musical prodigy,” having picked up piano on a whim in high school after almost failing an AP art class. From there he learned guitar, bass and drums and took a keen interest in blues.
Raised in Gary, Indiana, he moved with his family to Milwaukee in 2001.
“There’s not too many cats my age that’s trying to play the blues,” Pierre said. “Blues is a dying art. I’m just tying to keep it going. That’s our heritage, and our history, one of the few American-born art forms. It’s our duty to keep it going.”