USC Student Elevating Homegrown Talent

By John Wagoner

Students in the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications are often working to put their own name on the map, but Kaleb Partilla has grander aspirations. The broadcast journalism student born in Missouri, spent his formative years in Michigan but calls Charleston home. Partilla is on a mission to illuminate the homegrown music scene in South Carolina with his latest venture – “843 Metro Fest.”

The core of what Partilla does, in his words, is about “owning where you come from.” Those words are what inspired him to start this event. This summer interning for Fox in Los Angeles, Kaleb saw the music scene there and desired something similar in Columbia. He fondly recounted attending a free show at the Santa Monica Pier with emerging R&B artist Khalid. The show was expected to draw around 15,000 people that drew closer to 60,000.

Partilla bolted up in his chair speaking about concerts being put on every night in the City of Angels and the atmosphere surrounding music festivals like Coachella, hoping people will take to new artists even if they lack the big-name status of established musicians.

While he made it clear he did not expect that same level of response back in the Palmetto State, he repeated that South Carolinians should know about the artists in their state. Partilla said a big problem with local artists getting publicity is “everyone goes to Atlanta,” a city known as a mecca for trap music and Southern rap.

Partilla needed an action plan to put together his vision for promoting local music. He found it on Twitter and other social media sites. Ment Nelson, in particular, became famous promoting all things South Carolina, including his own art depicting life in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Partilla saw how Nelson could simultaneously promote the successes of others from South Carolina and share his own work in a balance for his followers.

“843 Metro Fest” has been a project for Kaleb all the way back to his summer in California, where he spent his time outside his internship reaching out to venues, musicians, artists and sponsors. The event was originally scheduled to be in Columbia at The Music Farm, however after a falling out with management the event was moved to Charleston to its current venue, The Purple Buffalo on September 8.

Partilla took this setback in stride, repeating an understanding that closed doors are a part of life, expressing he knew he was always going to get ignored but “you have to keep reminding them you’re there.”

In five years, Partilla hopes to be back in Los Angeles pursuing his dreams in the media industry either back with Fox or with another company, but “[he] will never forget trying to push people here.”

843 Metro Fest takes place September 8 at The Purple Buffalo, 2702 Azalea Drive, Charleston, SC. The show is slated to begin at 7 PM.

Wagoner is a broadcast journalism senior

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