PHL LIVE highlights local talent in music competition series

After the pandemic forced the event to take a break for two years, Councilmember-at-Large David Oh said he’s grateful to see it return.

“When we were able to announce the return of PHL LIVE, people were just so happy,” Oh said. “It just marked, I think, just like okay, we’re coming back and we’re going to see the return of live entertainment and and people having a good time and letting the stress out and making friends and, you know, sharing with each other through artistic expression that sometimes is very, very deep and very universal, and I think people really miss those times.”

JaFar played with time signatures and dazzled concertgoers with his trumpet Tuesday evening. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Emmanuel Ohemang III was excited to be back on stage Tuesday evening. He said the pandemic was like a “reset button” for the local music scene.

“It’s great to see the resurgence of music, especially in Philadelphia after that time,” Ohemang III said. “And, you know, I think that time also made the band stronger because we got to gel on a deeper level because we weren’t always gigging, we were just hanging out and rehearsing and things like that.”

Councilmember Oh also noted how much of an “economic engine” the performing arts has been for Philadelphia in previous years.

“When we look at the impact of the arts in Philadelphia prior to the pandemic, it was a $3.4 billion impact annually,” Oh said. “It was $920 million in household income. And, you know, for our city government, the local taxes was $157 million annually.”

The 50 finalists are competing across 10 music genre categories including hip-hop and classical. A winner from each category will be awarded a $1,000 prize. One “People’s Choice Winner” will also be selected via a popular fan vote. The award show will take place on Dec. 20 at World Café Live from 7:30-11 p.m.