The Renaissance benefit concert at Local 506 featured various hip-hop artists. All proceeds from the event went towards the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Jennifer Bowman, director of special events at UNC Lineberger, said cuts in state funding have made events like the benefit concert increasingly important for the Center.
“The other side of what I’m really hoping to get out of this concert is to really to increase the awareness of students on campus so that they’re more aware of UNC Lineberger and the good work that we do here,” she said.
“(Students) can help make a difference in the cancer outcomes for so many people.”
Bowman said she enjoyed working with Joshua Rowsey and Brandon Wolfe, the two UNC alumni who planned the event.
“This is unique in the sense that there are two unique wonderful young alums who are really passionate about Lineberger and they really want to make a difference. I’m just so touched that they’ve reached out to us,” Bowman said.
While the concert drew a relatively intimate crowd, attendees were immediately greeted with sounds from the DJ booth before the night’s performers took the stage. T-shirts and CDs were also available for sale from the various performers.
No9to5, a music group founded by UNC alumni, performed at the concert. Rowsey is a member of the group. Rowsey said he hopes the concert shows that hip-hop music is more than just a source of entertainment, but also a catalyst for change.
“I want them to see that hip-hop can be a positive form that can help more than just the artist,” he said.
“I feel like hip-hop for a very long time has been recognized as a more selfish art form where its more about the person and how much wealth they’ve acquired. But I’m trying to get back to the roots of hip hop where we’re trying to impact the community.”
Rowsey was personally affected by cancer when his best friend died from the disease in early 2013. He came up with the idea for the concert when his friend was first diagnosed.
“The main reason why I wanted to do this was in memory of one of my best friends. It’s something big in my heart that I’ve wanted to do for a while,” Rowsey said.
Michael Thornburg, a senior political science major, was one of the performers. Thornburg, who goes by the stage name “Thornbro,” is an emcee. He released his debut hip-hop album, “Plastic Lenses,” in November.
Thornburg said he hopes to use his music to spread positive vibes at the benefit concert.
“In a lot of my songs I put myself in a very vulnerable positions and I want people to take away that it’s okay to be vulnerable,” he said.
“It’s okay to show some of your weaknesses because being able to do that is how you show your strength.”