This Sunday, Tinashe will take the stage in Sunken Gardens to perform for LMU students, marking the first time in more than two decades of Fallapaloozas that a solo female artist will headline the show.
“Every year it’s been men, and all white men until 2017 when we had Jeremih,” said Troy Womack-Henderson, the ASLMU chief programming officer who led the search for this year’s headliner. “When I learned this I thought it had to be a joke. Like, this school is so old and we’ve been doing Falla for so long and there’s never been a solo female headliner before?”
Her goal for this year was simple: Feature a solo female artist and end the male-only streak. When she was first tasked with finding a performer this past summer, she already had her sights set on Tinashe. She said that she wanted this year’s performer to have a groovy sound, and fit into the R&B genre.
“I came across many different artists that fit into that genre, but Tinashe was my number one pick,” she said. “I was only allowed to give out one offer to an artist at a time, so I reached out to her talent agency and since then it’s been a long back-and-forth process with agents to secure her for Falla.”
Securing Tinashe for this coming Sunday was a four month long process for Womack-Henderson.
“Every bit of it was stressful,” she said, “but I think it’s just that there are so many moving parts to event planning that I didn’t really think about before going into this role.”
She spoke about how handling the Fallapalooza budget —which is not allowed to be disclosed to the public— was a new experience for her. She could not believe that such a large sum of money was given to a 20-year-old to spend.
“The budget comes from the student’s tuition, so I need to make sure that every part of this event is as enjoyable as it can be and that it accommodates every student,” she said.
According to Celebrity Talent International, a Las Vegas based celebrity booking agent, the minimum fee to book Tinashe for events within the U.S. ranges from $40,000-$75,000. Yet, the website emphasizes that this is only an average and does not reflect additional costs for event location and travel costs.
As CPO, Womack-Henderson chose to put an emphasis on accessibility. She stressed that there were issues with last year’s Falla event in terms of students who required ADA accommodations. She worked closely with her production team, the university, and a few outside advisors to gather suggestions on how to make Falla more accessible.
“This year we will have an entire ADA section dedicated to those students who need accommodations,” she said. “There will be an elevated platform with a wheelchair lift so that these folks can be close to the stage, off to the side, and still be able to come and enjoy the event without worrying about getting hurt or trampled.”
Additionally, this year ASLMU will be introducing a lineup for Falla, rather than the usual student-performer and headliner, and will include up-and-coming artist Alemeda. Womack-Henderson discovered Alemeda at a small concert in North Hollywood called Kauai Friends this past summer.
“When I saw her perform, I thought she was so cool and I needed her to perform at Falla,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but I DM’d her after the concert and asked if she would like to be a part of our event and she got me in touch with her management team.”
Womack-Henderson was interested in Alemeda’s unique sound —she described it as alternative rock and R&B— and wanted to give her a platform to expand her listeners.
“I am really excited to be able to give Alemeda the opportunity to open for such a big artist like Tinashe,” she said, “but also to expose students to new kinds of music.”
Photo: Danny Matson | Flickr