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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Student and Hip-Hop Artist RobV Performs at SXSW

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Vernon Robinson, his manager and publicist spent their first day at the world-famous South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival taking in the sights and sounds of Austin, Texas.

Then on Friday, March 17, the day before the Old Dominion University student and hip-hop artist performed at SXSW, the trio got to work.

"We hit the ground running. We had so many people we were trying to meet, handing out business cards, talking to other musicians. We treated it like a business trip," Robinson said.

Robinson, who goes by the stage name RobV, was selected in January to perform at South by Southwest. The influential music festival serves as a launching pad for music careers, with worldwide A-list artists sharing bills with acts trying to break through.

The 21-year-old Robinson wanted to take advantage of the largest stage of his young career. His opportunity came Saturday night, when he performed a three-song set to a crowd of 500 at Bat Bar in Austin, as part of a bill of nine hip-hop acts.

"It was awesome, that's all I can say. One hundred percent my best show yet," he said.

Robinson's songs speak to his experiences growing up in Newport News and express the view that life can get better. His new single, "Have You?" released on Valentine's Day, is about the things he learned from a relationship that didn't work out. Robinson performed "Have You?" as well as two of his earlier songs, "Underdog Freestyle" and "Handlebars," during his SXSW set.

He wasn't sure how the crowd would react to a brand-new performer. "At one point, I asked everyone in the audience to get their hands up," he said. "I usually close my eyes a lot when I sing, but this time I looked out in the crowd and 90 percent of them had their hands in the air. That was really cool."

Now that he's back at Old Dominion, continuing his studies in the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts, Robinson is more determined than ever to make a career out of performing.

"I feel very motivated," he said. "The energy the crowd gave me is enough to fuel me for a good while."

Robinson continues to release singles on his personal Soundcloud account. His first long release, an eight- to 12-song concept piece called "DOAP" (Diary of a Prophet), is due out later this spring.

Robinson's experience at SXSW reinforced his passion for hiphop.

"Just to be around so many talented, motivated musicians, all chasing their dream, was amazing," he said. "It's a great way to jump-start your creative energy. I can't wait to see what's next."

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