USIA to be Held Nov. 6

In its fourth year, the Upper State Independent Awards (USIA), scheduled Saturday, Nov. 6, acknowledges independent musicians, poets, models, comedians, photographers, choreographers and more. Votes from the community were accepted online up until Oct. 31 to select winners in each of the 30 awards categories.

Hip-hop artist Jimmy Black is performing at this year’s show.

South Side resident and musician Kendric Bedell started USIA in hopes of shining the spotlight on hardworking musicians and artists who had not broken into the mainstream yet. “Being a musician myself, it was kind of hard for independent artists…there was no platform that paid attention to them,” said Bedell, who plans the event with his wife Sheridonna Wilson.

This year’s show has 30 categories, including Best Gospel, Jazz, DJ, Blues, Hip-Hop Male and Female to Best Cover Band, R&B Group, Producer and Salons/Barbershop. The community via online votes selected the nominees in each of the categories over the last several months.

Former 2009 Syracuse mayoral candidate Alfonso Davis presents Heidy Z with the Favorite Model Award at last year’s event.

Now to win, nominees must network amongst their fans to get the public to vote for them. “The person with the most votes, they’re working diligently and telling their fans and family to support them,” said Bedell. “We try to motivate these artists because it’s a networking event also, and we want to motivate each other to work hard toward our goal—to make our audience aware of what we are doing.”

South Side businesses are also encouraged to participate in the event. “The community is always asking that they want something positive in our community and we are doing something positive,” said Bedell. “And we’re trying to get different businesses involved to be a sponsor, so their name can get out as well, and also give back.”

The awards show takes place on Nov. 6 at One Conservation Place. Hosted by Sheridonna Bedell, the show features a fashion show and live performers, such as Jimmy Black. More performers will be announced soon.

For a full list of the nominees in each category and to purchase tickets to the awards show, visit

— Pictures courtesy of the U.S.I.Awards

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