Pride 2014: Charlotte Pride brings big talent to Uptown

LeAnn Rimes, Sevyn Streeter to headline Aug. 16-17

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Charlotte Pride has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Organizers say the event, this year scheduled for Aug. 16-17, will grow again as they welcome headliners LeAnn Rimes and Sevyn Streeter to Uptown Charlotte.

It’s the first time, organizers say, they’ve been able to attract such a well-known mainstream recording artist like Rimes. And, the rest of the line up, including Saturday’s headliner Streeter, will provide “something for everybody,” they say.

“We’re excited for the entire line up this year,” says Jonathan Hill, Charlotte Pride’s entertainment co-chair. “This is the first year we’ve had a headliner from pretty much every single genre and especially the top three — Country, Hip Hop and Dance.”

Hill hopes the name recognition and diversity of the entertainment line up will attract new visitors to the festival.

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“These are headliners in their own genre and people will come to see them and hopefully stay to see the other artists,” he says. “We always try to have a diverse line up and this is the first time we’ve ever had a Country artist, especially a Grammy-winning Country artist.”

Hill adds, “On Saturday, we have something for everybody and on Sunday, with the parade leading into LeAnn Rimes’ performance, I expect record numbers.”

The Grammy Award-winning Rimes is best known for her Country and Pop career which began with the 1996 release of her debut album, “Blue.” It reached number one on top Country albums charts and was later certified multiplatinum.

Streeter, an R&B recording artist and singer-songwriter, is best known as a former member of the groups TG4 and RichGirl, where she was known as Se7en. She’s written songs for Chris Brown, Brandy, Kelly Rowland, Alicia Keys and others.

PrideLogoFinal-2014-dates-locationRichard Grimstad, a Charlotte Pride co-director, shares Hill’s enthusiasm for this year’s entertainers.

“We hope that it will help us grow,” says Grimstad, who also thinks attendance might be affected by a pre-season Panthers game scheduled the same weekend.

“We are certainly anticipating and expecting an increase in attendance,” he says. “Given the factor of the home game for the Panthers, we’re not certain what it’s going to be. It’s going to give us access to a crowd we wouldn’t normally have access to and we don’t know how much spill over we’ll have from that.”

Managing the events growth has been challenging, Grimstad says, but it hasn’t been insurmountable.

In 2010, the event — then called “Pride Charlotte” and operated under the umbrella of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte — was held at the NC Music Factory. It attracted about 12,000 people, organizers have estimated. In 2011, the event moved to S. Tryon St. and more than doubled in size. In 2012, it doubled again as the event grew to two days. At the beginning of 2013, organizers with Pride Charlotte and LGBT center leaders recognized the growth and announced the event would continue as its own independent organization. Last year, organizers added a parade and, once again, nearly doubled their attendance.

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“The challenges of the event has been just managing the growth,” says Grimstad. “We’re at a point right now where it would take a substantial change in the festival footprint to be able to expand beyond where we are now. That alone will pose multiple challenges we haven’t had to deal with before.”

Grimstad says the growth has also meant an increase in volunteer needs.

“The number of volunteers it takes to pull this off has grown year over year,” he says. “It’s been a challenge of just trying to maintain that base and drawing enough volunteers to implement everything we do.”

Organizers say 2014 will be their best year ever. It’s also only the second year Charlotte Pride will host a parade. In 2013, the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade was the first time an LGBT Pride parade had been held in the Queen City for nearly two decades. This year’s parade is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 17, 1-3 p.m. Rimes will perform at 4 p.m. the same day. Festival hours are Saturday, Aug. 16, Noon-10 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 17, Noon-6 p.m. Streeter will headline on Saturday evening.

Presenting sponsors for this year’s event are Bank of America, PNC Bank, The Scorpio, Time Warner Cable and Wells Fargo. : :

more: Get more information on this year’s Charlotte Pride, entertainers and related activities at charlottepride.org.

[Ed. Note: Matt Comer has volunteered with Charlotte Pride in various roles for several years.]

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.