Within the last year, the typical organization and attendance of concerts and music festivals has changed exponentially. Instead of large, sweaty crowds and rowdy concert venues, the music scene has supplemented itself with innovative ways to release content, such as drive-ins and virtual live events. 

Sophomore emerging media arts major Sydney Peters has organized one such virtual live event scheduled to take place Jan. 26.

Inspired by Peters’ childhood nickname “Citrus,” Citrusfest features a myriad of up-and-coming artists who are given the opportunity to connect with leading music executives and receive feedback from industry veterans. Structured similarly to a television singing competition, rising musicians will perform live virtually and then receive feedback and potential record deals from various executives on board with the event. 

“Growing up, I always loved watching singing shows like ‘The Voice’ and seeing how artists performed,” Peters said. “And I just thought, ‘Why don’t I create something like those shows that can help direct artist’s and executives to connect?’” 

The event will be hosted by Jenna Ushkowitz, who is known for her role as Tina Cohen-Chang on the popular FOX television series “Glee.” Along with Ushkowitz, the artists will have the chance to perform in front of five recording executives. The executive lineup includes Bruce Waynne, a.k.a. Waynne Nugent, with Elektra Records, Atlantic Records and the SRC/Universal Motown label, as well as Teresa LaBarbera, who is known as the woman who discovered and signed Beyonce. 

“Getting this whole thing started was definitely the hardest part,” Peters said. “Once I got a good team together and we were able to talk to different people, it all actually went really smoothly.”

According to Peters, her father Darren Peters was a big part of the team that made this event happen. 

“Neither one of us have a specific background in music, however, we both have a lot of interest in the entertainment industry,” Darren said. “What makes it best is that Sydney has the passion, and I have decent management and organization skills. Combining the two has really helped the whole thing take on a life of its own.” 

Over 200 up-and-coming artists submitted an application to perform for concert goers and record producers alike. Picked by Peters and her team, the lineup includes 12 musicians performing everything from country-soul to R&B and pop. 

“One of the most rewarding aspects of this process has been finding how helpful people are willing to be,” Darren said. “We started out talking to various people in the music industry and everyone we talked to in entertainment, and even the Johnny Carson school was just so eager to be helpful with this.” 

Both Darren and Sydney said they are excited to give young artists the chance to perform for a genuine spotlight and get feedback from people in the industry.

“I hope that audiences can see that there are a lot of artists out there who don’t have big names,” Peters said. “There are so many talented people out there who are just trying to make it.” 

Performances will begin live at 7 p.m. and conclude around 9 p.m. Signups for the event and updates are available on the official Citrusfest website