December 5, 2023
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Music and Culture in Maryland: How Music Shaped the State’s Identity

Do you know that many famous singers like Toni Braxton, Benji and Joel Madden, and the legend Frank Zappa were born or lived in some of the Maryland musical cities? This state is known for its rich cultural heritage, with music being one of the vital parts of the tradition and history. 

That’s why we’ll talk more about Maryland concerts, history, festivals, and artists in this article. We’ll try to cover every aspect that makes this state a popular musical hub for both local and famous artists. 

So, if you’ve ever wondered why people often associate this state with music and culture – there are quite a few reasons for that. 

The Birth of Unique Genres

The African-American influence is quite visible in the earliest forms of Maryland music. During the colonial era, local music traditions blended with European influences, announcing the birth of genres like blues and jazz. 

The traditional music from the colonial era is always followed by guitars, drums, flutes, and banjos. So, it’s not really surprising that artists like Billie Holiday, Eva Cassidy, and Ruby Glover are among the well-known Maryland jazz artists. 

The Rise of The Folk Music Tradition

When searching for festivals and concerts in Maryland, you’ll find many folk-inspired events around. Maryland cities and their surroundings inspired many country songs that tell stories about the nature and life there. 

Performers like Rohrersville Cornet Band, Bob Zentz, and Steve Keith largely contributed to the rich folk music heritage. So, in Maryland, you can find institutions like the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center and the well-known Takoma Park folk festival that offers a variety of popular acts every year. 

Maryland Stage Modern Music Genres 

We can find so many interesting genres in Maryland, with jazz being the most popular one. Today, the state celebrates its jazz roots with plenty of events held in the popular Maryland concert venues. 

The popular Go-Go genre, characterized by funk sounds, is also popular among the people of this state. Still, the bluegrass heritage remains one of the most recognizable ones, with many festivals dedicated to the genre. Marylanders also love classical music, and the existence of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Peabody Institute is proof of that. 

In the 80s, club music became an integral part of Maryland’s musical identity. At the same time, the hip-hop music scene became even stronger, putting the state on the hip-hop world map. It’s worth noting that the rapper Tupac Shakur, who was born in Harlem, began his career in Baltimore, proving that Maryland is indeed a well-known rap hub on the music scene.

Popular Maryland Artists and Musicians

We mentioned a few popular names from the world’s music stage, but they surely deserve a separate section. For example, Eva Cassidy, who was really popular with her powerful and emotive voice, performed jazz, folk, and blues music. She remained popular even after her death in 1996. 

Billie Holiday, who was often named “Lady Day,” is another Maryland-associated music star known for her smooth but still powerful musical expression. Ether Ennis was known as the “First Lady of Jazz.” She was born in Baltimore and lived most of her life there.

The singer Toni Braxton, as well as her sister Tamar, largely contributed to the popularity of R&B and pop music in the state. Victoria Legrand is another significant name often associated with Baltimore because of the dream-pop duo Beach House. Kathleen Hanna is the name of the singer who popularized feminist punk with her bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. 

And while talking about the mix of pop, punk, and rock, we need to mention Good Charlotte. The leads, Benji and Joel, are also from Maryland, making this new style popular worldwide. And surely, no list of popular people from Maryland is complete without Frank Zappa, who introduced the unconventional and satirical rock to the general audience. 

The Importance of Music Festivals in Maryland

Music festivals are a great way for people to visit the Maryland cities and explore the vibrant local music scene. The most popular venue is Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is an outdoor location that holds the largest concerts and festivals in the area.

The HFStival was another popular festival that was held in the 90s and 2000s, and there were a few tries to bring it back in the 2010s. Virgin Festival is another US and Canadian festival often held in various cities at a time. 

Upcoming Concerts in Maryland

If you travel to Maryland or live there and you want to explore something different, you’ll be happy to learn that many concerts and festivals are planned for the next few months. 

By the end of September, you can attend the Oceans Calling Festival featuring performers like Alanis Morissette, Third Eye Blind, Jack Johnson, and The Lumineers. If you’re more about classical music, you can attend Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Music to Remember at Maryland Hall For the Creative Arts or New World Symphony by Jonathon Heyward at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. 

If you love Maggie Rogers, Lana Del Rey, and Carly Rae Jepsen, they’ll perform at the All Things Go Music Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion. At the beginning of October, there will be A Tribute to ABBA concert at the Theater at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill. If you’re in Baltimore the first week of October, you can see Queen & Adam Lambert live at CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore – more than once!

Surely, there are many more performances like Zac Brown Band, King Calaway, and Tenille Townes in Merriweather Post Pavilion, and Anoushka Shankar at Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda. 

If you are into blues, we recommend the Charm City Blues Festival to be held at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore. Another event worth noting is the performance by Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. 

In mid-October, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will play the music of Billy Joel and Elton John at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. Just a few days later, they have another performance in the same Hall, named Music to Give You Goose Bumps. 

So, if you travel to Maryland or you live there and want to explore the local performances, we gave you so many ideas on what to attend. It’s up to you to buy your tickets on time and plan the whole thing, in order not to miss any important event around you. 

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