Art and music is Billy Pilgrim’s life. The painter/poet/rapper began this journey many moons ago, and today is reaping some fruits of his labor. His rap-rock band Mega Def has sent ripples through his hometown of Pittsburgh, he hosted his first visual arts show earlier this year where he presented a series of his paintings that highlighted African-American blues and jazz artists, and he’s been hosting a weekly open mic where years earlier he was developing his own rhyming and performing skills.
Pilgrim’s family has some history working in music. His granddad performed with jazz saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, and his cousin toured as a DJ with Run DMC. Although Pilgrim showed a passion for music early in life, his mother wanted him to have a back-up plan, so he attained a degree in History from Slippery Rock University – his studies focused on Latin America, Africa, and China.
While he currently enjoys his role as an arts education mentor working with local youth, Pilgrim is determined to achieve some lofty music-related goals in his near future. One of those goals is going “ghetto gold,” which Pilgrim explains is selling 50,000 units independently worldwide. He adds: “The long-term benefit of a grassroots operation can be rewarding.” As he nears the completion of his latest music project, Pilgrim will be setting out on a tour to distribute and showcase the music and performance that he’s dedicated his life to.
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