UAB MUSE Conference offers info and inspiration to working musicians March 9-10

It can be a real struggle for musicians to start, build and sustain their careers.

However, musicians in the Birmingham area in search of much-needed information and inspiration can find both at The MUSE Conference, a free event to be held at The University of Alabama at Birmingham on Thursday, March 9, and Friday, March 10.

The inaugural MUSE Conference is presented by the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center at UAB and was created by Eric Essix, the center’s director of programming and an acclaimed jazz guitarist.

The conference is open to all musicians, be they aspiring musicians or experienced professionals. It will feature numerous workshops and panel discussions focused on helping musicians learn about the industry.

Speakers will include percussionist, producer and educator Ulysses Owens Jr.; Ricky Schultz of Zebra Records; and Grammy Award-winning producer, keyboardist and engineer Phil Davis.

Essix said his inspiration for the MUSE Conference stemmed from his own “experience as a young person who was interested in a career in music but didn’t have a clue about how to get started or where to go to get information.

“Although we have the Internet with unlimited sources for information now, nothing beats actually being in the room with actual industry professionals and world-class, Grammy-winning artists who can talk about their personal journeys in a relatable way,” Essix said.

The featured artists at the MUSE Conference are Meshell Ndegeocello, a Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, bassist and producer, and bassist Victor Wooten, who has won five Grammy Awards.

Ndegeocello, who has worked in such genres as pop, jazz, R&B and hip-hop, will lead a a moderated panel discussion on March 9 at 3 p.m. Ndegeocello will also perform in the Jemison Concert Hall at the Stephens Center on March 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $39. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or go to

Acclaimed bassist Victor Wooten will lead a musicians workshop on March 10 at 4:30 p.m. Wooten will perform in the Jemison Concert Hall on March 10 at 8 p.m. with Bass Extremes, also featuring Steve Bailey and Derico Watson. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or go to

The MUSE Conference should be helpful and inspiring for musicians, Essix said.

“If you come to the MUSE Conference with an open mind and are willing to honestly look at where you are and where you want to be as an artist or musician, something will ignite a spark to help get you there from one of our presenters or concerts,” Essix said. “Every topic presented is designed to try and light a fire or inspire a ‘can-do”’ attitude in attendees.

Each of the performers and presenters at the conference “have reached the highest levels of the music industry in their respective areas,” Essix said.

“Whether it’s selling millions of records or generating millions of streams, winning or having multiple nominations for Grammy awards to touring the world with some of the biggest names in the music industry, our presenters have reached the pinnacle of their professions and are able to discuss what it took for them to get there and share their experiences.”

The conference is free, but online registration is encouraged. There is limited space in some of the venues, but attendees can register as long as there is seating available, Essix said.

A full schedule and information about presenters is available at

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