BEST BETS: Amillion the Poet aims to do Dover proud at Firefly

As it turns out, Dover’s Amillion the Poet had to go halfway around the world in order to perform in his own backyard.

The hip-hop artist and author was last week officially named to the lineup for this summer’s Firefly Music Festival. It’s the fulfillment of a longtime dream.

“They reached out to me,” he said. “I knew this about five months ago but I had to keep it under wraps. They were

Dover resident and Caesar Rodney High graduate Amillion the Poet will perform at the Firefly Music Festival in June.
(Submitted photo/Star Quality Imaging)

very impressed by what I was doing outside the country.”

Amillion has performed in the United Kingdom twice, most recently in November and December of last year and just returned from doing some shows in the Dominican Republic last week.

He said he’s been looking to play Firefly since it started in 2012.

“I really wanted to go early on so when I didn’t make it, I thought maybe I didn’t earn it. I did go on to get a spot at the Essence Fest the year after so that was nice,” he said.

“I never gave up on the idea but at the same time, I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. I just kept working hard and believing in myself. It just goes to show that if you want something, you have to go out and get it. You don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.”

Amillion, a Caesar Rodney High graduate, said organizers have said that he will perform on the main stage sometime during the Firefly festival, set for June 14-17 at the Woodlands of Dover.

“It’s going to be big. I don’t plan on making it a one-time thing either. I don’t want to just score a touchdown. I want to win the Super Bowl,” he said.

Amillion will be joined by another Dover-area act this summer, although it was not on the original Firefly schedule.

The four-person rap group Champagne Gang got the call Sunday that they will also play Firefly. They are set to perform in the enclosed Pavilion at some point during the four days.

2017 was a big year for Amillion. Along with shows out of the country, he performed the first hip-hop show at Dover’s now-closed Schwartz Center for the Arts in February. At the performance, he received the key to the city from Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen.

Amillion said he he believes Mayor Christiansen had a hand in making his Firefly dream come true.

“I know they were introduced last year via the mayor. He mentioned me to them and that put me on their radar,” he said.

As exciting as 2017 was, this year should be even busier.

While in the Dominican Republican, he received an endorsement deal from clothing manufacturer Zara. He has a new album and book due toward the end of the year. And before Firefly, he has about 20 shows scheduled in places such as Washington, Las Vegas and Arizona.

One downside to 2017 was that he tore his Achillies tendon getting ready for a charity basketball game and was forced to cancel shows out west. So he’s excited to get back out there to make up those dates.

His free “Key to the City” mixtape is also available on his website AmillionthePoet.com.

Performing at Firefly looks to be the highlight of his busy year for many reasons. One of which is that it was a dream for his longtime collaborator Victory the Producer, who died in 2015, for Amillion to play the festival.

Another is to show the music world what he and the First State have to offer.

“Delaware doesn’t have a professional sports team. You don’t see a lot of people from sports or entertainment from Delaware. People from here may not think it’s practical. We adopt Pennsylvania and D.C. But we need to take a sense of pride in Delaware. We belong here. We earned it. I hope this will open the door for others,” said Amillion, who started his own record label, 1NA, on Jan. 1.

“I want Delaware to be proud. I want Dover to be proud.”

The four-day Firefly Music Festival will this year feature headliners Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys and The Killers.

Tickets are on sale at FireflyFestival.com.

Ladybug coming to Milford

It was announced this week that Wilmington’s Ladybug Festival will expand to Milford on Saturday, Sept. 22.

The free block party features an all-female lineup of musicians and was started in 2012 by Wilmington’s Gable Music Ventures as an alternative to Firefly.

The event started with 300 music fans and has grown to more than 7,000. It expanded last year to two days in downtown Wilmington with more than 60 acts.

Gayle Dillman, Gable Music Ventures CEO, and Sara Pletcher, DMI Board President, sign the contract to bring The Ladybug Music Festival to Milford. (Submitted photo)

Plans are to include many local shops and empty store fronts in the downtown Milford area as performance venues.

National headliners Mary Lambert, Larkin Poe and Caroline Rose have all been past performers. Local headliners Nadjah Nicole, Nalani & Sarina and Angela Sheik have performed five of the last six years.

A press conference set for Jan. 29 will announce more details.

Fox to speak at library

As part of the Dover Public Library’s new “Celebrate the Arts” series, they will welcome acclaimed artist Clark V. Fox for a discussion of his work starting at 6:30 p.m.

Mr. Fox is an American artist best known for his architectural motifs and his subtle explorations of color and linear elements. His work is in over 45 museums and many private collections, including the National Gallery of Art, The Delaware Art Museum, The Smithsonian Institute, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Collection.

A collection of his work entitled “Experience the Paintings” is on display at the library on the first floor until Feb. 8

Artists lauded

Seventeen Delaware artists are being recognized by the Delaware Division of the Arts for the quality of their artwork. Work samples from 124 Delaware choreographers, composers, musicians, writers, folk and visual artists were reviewed by out-of-state arts professionals, considering demonstrated creativity and skill in their art form.

The 17 selected fellows reside throughout Delaware, including Lewes, Newark, Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington.

Awards are given in three categories — $10,000 for the Masters Award, $6,000 for the Established Professional Award, and $3,000 for the Emerging Professional Award — and Fellows are required to offer at least one exhibit or performance during the upcoming year, providing an opportunity for the public to experience their work. The work of the Fellows will be featured in a group exhibition, “Award Winners XVIII,” at the Biggs Museum this summer.

“Individual Artist Fellowship grants provide the recognition and exposure that artists need to successfully promote their work,” said Paul Weagraff, director of Delaware Division of the Arts.

“The financial award allows them to pursue advanced training, purchase equipment and materials, or fulfill other needs to advance their careers.”

The Masters Fellowship is open to differing artistic disciplines each year. In Fiscal Year 2018, Masters Fellowship applications were accepted in dance, jazz or music from artists who had previously received an Established Professional Fellowship. In addition to exemplifying high artistic quality, Masters Fellowship applicants must demonstrate their involvement and commitment to the arts in Delaware.

Wilmington musician and educator Lloyd Shorter has been awarded this year’s Masters Fellowship in Music: Solo Recital.

Mr. Shorter plays English horn, oboe, and oboe d’amore. This season marks Mr. Shorter’s 45th season with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. He is also a performer and co-artistic director of the Relâche Ensemble, an eight-member contemporary music ensemble based in Philadelphia.

With Relâche he has recorded or performed new works, toured nationally and internationally, and collaborated with numerous composers including Philip Glass. At the University of Delaware, Mr. Shorter spent 34 years as assistant professor of oboe, and was the director for the Governor’s School Music Program and a member of the Del Arte Woodwind Quintet. He continues to teach privately and explore new music with a special interest in technology.

Of Downstate note, authors Jack Clemons and Maribeth Fischer, both of Lewes, received Established Professional awards for $6,000.

Photographer Leah Beach of Rehoboth Beach and Lewes resident and filmmaker Robert Waters received Emerging Professional awards for $3,000.

Honorable mentions went to author Teresa Clifton of Milford and artist and Biggs Museum director Charles Guerin of Dover.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters are the action-adventure films “12 Strong” and “Den of Thieves” and the musical romance “Forever My Girl.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the horror film “Jigsaw,” the sci-fi film “Geostorm” and the war film “Thank You for Your Service”.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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