On this episode of BackStory with Colby Colb, legendary radio host Colby “Colb” Tyner is joined by Adam Blackstone, the award-winning musical mastermind behind seminal performances in music history, including Rihanna’s 2023 Super Bowl halftime show.
“My longevity in this business has been very much a testament to good character, integrity, and trying to be the best musical support that I can be for all the incredible artists in this business,” Blackstone says.
He discusses growing up in Trenton and Willingboro, New Jersey and playing music at a young age. “Willingboro really raised me in my adolescence because it taught me that Black was excellent,” he says. In addition, his father, a jazz musician, played a crucial role in Blackstone’s musical education.
Blackstone moved to Philadelphia for college, and the rest was history. The young musician immersed himself in the city’s music scene, frequenting the Prince Theater and The Five Spot, surrounded by young talents like Prince, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Jazmine Sullivan and The Roots.
Blackstone’s first big live show was Jay-Z’s Fade to Black concert at Madison Square Garden, alongside Questlove as musical director. “That one moment alone helped shape where I am today, for sure.”
He also discusses working on the Glow in the Dark tour with Kanye West, featuring Rihanna, Lupe Fiasco, N.E.R.D, Santigold and Nas. “Arguably one of the top 5 Hip-Hop tours ever.”
Blackstone walks us through the thought process behind music directing the last two Super Bowl halftime shows—Rihanna’s long-anticipated comeback moment this past February and Dr. Dre at Super Bowl LVI, which earned Blackstone an Emmy for Outstanding Music Direction.
“It was a timeline of greatness,” Blackstone said of developing the set list for the performance featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent. “It felt like a culture-shifting moment for sure.”
Last year, Blackstone released his debut album, Legacy—featuring Jazmine Sullivan, Queen Latifah, Kirk Franklin and more—and will be opening for Jill Scott on tour this year.
“It’s something different when you have something to call your own, and that you have ownership of,” Blackstone says.
Listen to the episode below.
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