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Let there be light

Inaugural Baltimore extravaganza features art, music and more



Baltimore Light Festival, gay news, Washington Blade, Light City Baltimore

‘Digital Skin’ by Atelier Mateo M, one of the installations at Light City Baltimore. (Photo by the artist, courtesy Finn Partners)

Light City Baltimore


A Festival of Light, Music and Innovation


March 28-April 3


Locations vary at the Inner Harbor and beyond


Full details at


Baltimore may not look like it now, but in a few days it will be transformed into a wonderland of light, creativity and innovation that could put Alice’s Wonderland to shame. Light City is Baltimore’s first multi-genre spectacular that incorporates art, music and education. It runs from Monday, March 28-Sunday, April 3.

Light City was the brain child of couple Justin Allen and Brooke Hall from What Works Studio, a Baltimore creative agency. Hall is CEO and founder and Allen is CMO and creative strategist. The two were inspired by Vivid Sydney, a similar light extravaganza that has been running since 2009 in Sydney, Australia. Wanting to bring the concept to Maryland, the couple reached out to the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts whose members agreed to get on board.

The new team then set out to prod creative minds to figure out how to recreate the idea while making it distinctly Baltimore.

Bill Gilmore, executive director at the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, says the project began from scratch with meetings involving neighbor associations, arts communities and technology communities.

“We did about 17 of these just sort of bringing people into the fold because we thought it was a good idea but we didn’t really know how it was going to manifest itself here,” Gilmore says. “Because we wanted the festival to be about Baltimore, for Baltimore.”

After engaging with numerous groups, these organizations sent in proposals for ideas; 240 proposals wound up coming in from all over the world for the event, which runs from 7-11 p.m. each night except, April 1-2 when it runs from 7 p.m.-midnight.

Now in its completed phase, the festival has become a three-layered artistic haven.

The light installation component will be a one-and-a-half mile BGE Light Art Walk, from the south shore of the Inner Harbor to Harbor East, featuring 50 attractions including lit up visual artworks, street theater and musical performances. A few pieces on display will be “Digital Skin” by Atelier Mateo M, which lets guests paint on their friends to digitally map their faces and bodies and watch them come to life; “Blur Hour” by New American Public Art, which uses light towers and seating that responds to people’s movement in the space; and “Dear Baltimore” by Thick Air Studios, a collection of letters floating seven feet about the ground propelled by bicycles placed throughout the Light City location.

Out magician David London will add to the street theater element. London is curating Circus of Wonders at Waterfront Garden at Pier 5 (711 Eastern Ave., Baltimore). There will be juggling, escapes, fire spinning and comedy performances throughout the week.

Music is another highlight of the festival. Bands, dancers and major DJs will be performing on stage throughout Light City’s run. Baltimore-based lesbian rapper TT The Artist performs on Tuesday, March 29 from 10-11 p.m. DJ Jazzy Jeff, best known for his work with Will Smith, will perform on Thursday, March 31 from 10-11 p.m. Electronic musician Dan Deacon performs on Saturday, April 2 from 10-11 p.m.

Festival-goers can take time to reflect on important issues with the Social Innovation Conference on March 28-29, the Health Innovation Conference and Sustainability Innovation Conference on March 30-31 and the Creative Innovation Conference on April 1-2. Topics at the conferences all focus on social change. Conference tickets are $99.

Gilmore expects 10,000 or more attendees at the various events.

“It’s not a new idea worldwide, but its the first really large international light festival in the United States,” Gilmore says. “I think that people are just really excited to see light art installations and the fact that it’s free has a lot to do with it. I think we’ve built something that is unique to the genre of festivals just in general.”


Music & Concerts

Gay country artist and brother win big at CMA Awards

Brothers Osborne grew up in Deale, Md.



John and T.J. Osborne at the 57th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville on Nov. 8 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Brothers Osborne/CMA)

The biggest names in country music gathered Wednesday at Music City’s Bridgestone Arena for the 57th Annual Country Music Association Awards, hosted again this year by country star Luke Bryan alongside former NFL star Peyton Manning. 

Walking away with Vocal Duo of the Year were sibling musicians John and T.J. Osborne.

The Brothers Osborne as they are known by, in previous years have won in this category, this year making it their sixth win.

T.J. Osborne, lead singer of the country duo, came out as gay in an exclusive interview with Time Magazine, which was published Feb. 3, 2021.

While other ostensibly country artists are openly LGBTQ, such as Orville Peck, Brandi Carlile, Lil Nas X, Chely Wright and Billy Gilman, Osborne’s revelation makes him the first — and so far, only — openly gay musical artist signed to a major country label.

John and T.J. Osborne grew up in the small Chesapeake Bay bayside town of Deale in Anne Arundel County, Md., writing and playing songs for friends and family in their father’s shed. T.J. with his brother John formed the Brothers Osborne duo in 2012. Signed with EMI Records Nashville, they’ve released seven country Top 40 singles and three studio albums, to date. Their platinum hit “Stay a Little Longer” was a crossover to mainstream radio.

The siblings took home their first Grammy in 2022, winning Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their song “Younger Me,” inspired by T.J.’s coming out. The band has been nominated for 10 Grammys in total, standing as a now six-time CMA Vocal Duo of the Year, and are three-time ACM Duo of the Year. 

Overall, they have collected six CMA awards, six ACM trophies and received the ASCAP Vanguard Award in 2019. Their critically acclaimed hit songs have tallied multiple RIAA Gold and Platinum certifications, while surpassing more than 2.5 billion global streams. 

In addition to the Brothers Osborne winning Vocal Duo of the Year, country singer-songwriter Lainey Wilson took home three of the top awards of the night, including the coveted entertainer of the year award, as well as female vocalist of the year and album of the year. 

This is also the first time in CMA history that two women have been nominated for Entertainer of the Year in four consecutive years.

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Music & Concerts

Janet Jackson to headline World AIDS Day concert

Annual fundraiser sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation



Janet Jackson will headline a World AIDS Day concert in Houston.

Pop icon Janet Jackson will headline the annual World AIDS Day concert sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Houston.

The Dec. 1 event at NRG Arena will feature a full-length concert from Jackson. In addition, AHF will honor actor and activist Blair Underwood with its lifetime achievement award; choreographer Debbie Allen is slated to speak at the event.

Jackson is a longtime LGBTQ ally and AIDS activist. Her eighth No. 1 single, “Together Again,” released in 1997, paid tribute to a friend who died of AIDS and honored those lost to the disease.

Underwood co-founded Artists for a New South Africa to direct attention to “the catastrophic impact the disease has had on families and children across the continent,” according to Billboard. The actor has worked with AHF for years. The Underwood Center in D.C. provides state-of-the-art HIV medical treatment and care and related services for more than 600 patients at its offices at 2141 K St., N.W. 

“I’m so honored to be receiving this gracious award by AHF,” said Underwood in a statement. “We have had a long-standing partnership in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and there is still more work to be done.”

AHF is the world’s largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS service organization and AIDS advocacy group, with healthcare centers located throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Proceeds from the concert will be used to combat HIV/AIDS. Tickets are on sale now via TicketMaster.

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Music & Concerts

New dance single pays tribute to Town Danceboutique

Local musicians pen ‘Town’ in honor of shuttered club



Bryce Bowyn (Photo by Clarissa Villondo)

The closing of the LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique in the summer of 2017 was heartbreaking to local musician Bryce Bowyn. He and his Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter friend Lexie Martin decided to honor its legacy in their new single, “Town.”

For Bowyn, who moved to the District about a decade ago to attend school at American University, the memories he has from Town Danceboutique are endless. And when it closed, it was a massive loss to Bowyn and many others. 

“It was such a cool space,” Bowyn said. “It was just disappointing to see a place that brought so many people together become part of the landscape again.” The building Town Danceboutique used to be housed in is now home to upscale apartments and a CVS. 

Town Danceboutique was a formative place for Bowyn and Martin, and it was Bowyn’s first experience in an open and accepting LGBTQ environment. His favorite memories at the club were always on Halloween, he said. Patrons, including Bowyn, would go all out with their costumes to look their very best. 

Bowyn and Martin met while they were both in the musical theater program at American University. Despite their years-long friendship, “Town” is the first song they have written together. They sat down over FaceTime and got to work. It was Martin’s idea to pay homage to Town Danceboutique, and the song follows the story of pre-gaming, going out, and hitting the dance floor. 

But the single also serves as a hype song for going out in any city, at any place. 

“It was important to me for the song to remain relatable and accessible,” Bowyn said. “So the whole foundation of the chorus, ‘Let’s go to town,’ can either mean Town Danceboutique, or painting the town red and having the night of your life.”

Bowyn started writing and producing his own music in 2018. He released an EP titled “A Rosy Retrospect” in 2022, and most recently released a single “A Bridge Burned Down” in June. His music is inspired by late 2000s pop and ‘80s synthpop, influenced by stars like Madonna and Charli XCX. Lexie Martin released her self-titled EP in 2019 and most recently came out with her single “SUPERPOWER” in 2021. 

Bowyn has been a lifelong pop music enthusiast. He distinctly remembers watching Britney Spears perform “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the MTV Video Music Awards when he was a kid and thinking “That was what I wanted and what I was set to do in life.”

“My heart was always with pop music,” Bowyn said. 

“Town” is available now for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

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