PHL LIVE Center Stage highlights local talent in music competition series

Winners from each category will be awarded $1,000 prize in each award category.

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Mobbluz combined jazz and samples from an MPC to rock the Clef Club of Jazz on Oct. 25, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Mobbluz combined jazz and samples from an MPC to rock the Clef Club of Jazz on Oct. 25, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

PHL LIVE is back after two years, and musicians have come in full force to showcase their talents in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

The series of performances kicked off Tuesday night at the Clef Club of Jazz on South Broad Street. Five finalists in the jazz category dazzled attendees as they look to secure an award in December.

The jazz finalists for this year’s are: Emmanuel Ohemeng III & Perpetual Motion, Mobbluz, Swing That Cat, Jafar Barron and The Crowd Pleasers.

Emmanuel Ohemang III & Perpetual Motion kicked off the Jazz Finals at the Clef Club of Jazz on Oct. 25, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
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After the pandemic forced the event to take a break for two years, Councilmember-at-Large David Oh said he’s grateful to see it return.

“When we were able to announce the return of PHL LIVE, people were just so happy,” Oh said. “It just marked, I think, just like okay, we’re coming back and we’re going to see the return of live entertainment and and people having a good time and letting the stress out and making friends and, you know, sharing with each other through artistic expression that sometimes is very, very deep and very universal, and I think people really miss those times.”

JaFar played with time signatures and dazzled concertgoers with his trumpet Tuesday evening. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Emmanuel Ohemang III was excited to be back on stage Tuesday evening. He said the pandemic was like a “reset button” for the local music scene.

“It’s great to see the resurgence of music, especially in Philadelphia after that time,” Ohemang III said. “And, you know, I think that time also made the band stronger because we got to gel on a deeper level because we weren’t always gigging, we were just hanging out and rehearsing and things like that.”

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Councilmember Oh also noted how much of an “economic engine” the performing arts has been for Philadelphia in previous years.

“When we look at the impact of the arts in Philadelphia prior to the pandemic, it was a $3.4 billion impact annually,” Oh said. “It was $920 million in household income. And, you know, for our city government, the local taxes was $157 million annually.”

The 50 finalists are competing across 10 music genre categories including hip-hop and classical. A winner from each category will be awarded a $1,000 prize. One “People’s Choice Winner” will also be selected via a popular fan vote. The award show will take place on Dec. 20 at World Café Live from 7:30-11 p.m.

Editors note: The PHL Live Gosspel show originally scheduled for October 28 has been rescheduled for a later date. 

Here’s the list of future shows in the PHL LIVE Center Stage competition:


PHL LIVE Classical Finalist Show

Settlement Music School: 416 Queen St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Date: Tuesday 11-01-2022


PHL LIVE Country/Folk Finalist Show

Philadelphia Folk Song Society: 6156 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19128

Date: Tuesday 11-08-2022


PHL LIVE Rock Finalist Show

Sweeny’s Station Saloon: 13639 Philmont Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19116

Date: Friday 11-10-2022


PHL LIVE World Finalist Show

World Cafe Live (Upstairs): 3025 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104

Date: Sunday 11-13-2022


PHL LIVE R&B Finalist Show

City Winery: 990 Filbert St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Date: Monday 11-14-2022


PHL LIVE Hip Hop/DJ Finalist Show

Kung Fu Necktie: 1248 N Front St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Date: Monday 11-21-2022


PHL LIVE Pop Finalist Show

World Cafe Live: 3025 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Date: Wednesday 11-30-2022


PHL LIVE Gospel Finalist Show

Location: TBD

Date: TBD


PHL LIVE Award Show

World Cafe Live (Down stairs): 3025 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104

Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2022


The competition was launched in 2014, and is in collaboration with the Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Global Opportunities and Creative/Innovative Economy.

Mobbluz combined jazz and samples from an MPC to rock the Clef Club of Jazz on Oct. 25, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

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