<p>Elevate Founder Tatum Neill (far left)&nbsp;serves as DJ as a community&#39;s artists cut on stage.&nbsp;</p>

Elevate Founder Tatum Neill (far left) serves as DJ as a community's artists cut on stage. 

Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>An artist sharing his talent at Elevate.&nbsp;</p>

An artist sharing his talent at Elevate. 

Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>Elevate is the cross between a music festival and a hair show.</p>

Elevate is the cross between a music festival and a hair show.

Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>Elevate invites a community&#39;s artists to create the show, tapping into their&nbsp;unique culture and vibe.&nbsp;</p>

Elevate invites a community's artists to create the show, tapping into their unique culture and vibe. 

Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>All artists are welcome, regardless of experience or what manufacturer with which they are affiated.&nbsp;</p>

All artists are welcome, regardless of experience or what manufacturer with which they are affiated. 

Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>Because of the unique nature of Elevate, no two shows are alike.&nbsp;</p>

Because of the unique nature of Elevate, no two shows are alike. 

Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

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<p>Elevate Founder Tatum Neill (far left)&nbsp;serves as DJ as a community&#39;s artists cut on stage.&nbsp;</p>
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Elevate Founder Tatum Neill (far left) serves as DJ as a community's artists cut on stage. 


Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>An artist sharing his talent at Elevate.&nbsp;</p>
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An artist sharing his talent at Elevate. 


Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>Elevate is the cross between a music festival and a hair show.</p>
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Elevate is the cross between a music festival and a hair show.


Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>Elevate invites a community&#39;s artists to create the show, tapping into their&nbsp;unique culture and vibe.&nbsp;</p>
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Elevate invites a community's artists to create the show, tapping into their unique culture and vibe. 


Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>All artists are welcome, regardless of experience or what manufacturer with which they are affiated.&nbsp;</p>
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Slider

All artists are welcome, regardless of experience or what manufacturer with which they are affiated. 


Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

<p>Because of the unique nature of Elevate, no two shows are alike.&nbsp;</p>
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Because of the unique nature of Elevate, no two shows are alike. 


Photo courtesy of

Tatum Neill

Elevate is an equal-opportunity hair show. When it visits a city, Founder Tatum Neill, invites any interested stylists and barbers in the community to come cut and style hair on stage, regardless of experience or skill level or what product line with which they are affiliated.

Neill, who also is the Creative Director for Neill Corporation, started the first version of Elevate after working at Paris Parker in New Orleans and inviting the salon across the street, whom he had noticed but never walked in before, to participate.

“I had been living in New York for a while working as a platform artist, doing hair shows and education, and I missed that world of connecting with other people,” Tatum says. “I had this instinct to bring people in outside of my own bubble to share and collaborate on an educational journey.”

Within the next week, he hosted the team from the other salon, brought in some models and held his first Elevate. “There were maybe six people there, but it felt good to connect with some other people and see another perspective, and to begin building a community in New Orleans,” he says.

After hosting a few of these, Neill had just finished recording a DJ set and he hadn’t heard it yet, so he asked the audience if he could play the mix while he cut and then they’d talk about the hair afterward.

“It was the best demo I’ve ever done in my life, even though I’ve done hundreds before, but this one was different because I didn’t have to talk, I could focus on the work,” Tatum says. “I made some decisions halfway through the haircut I needed to make to make it work, but if I had said what I was going to do prior to that I would have been forced to execute what I committed to or carefully navigate the pivot verbally to the audience. I didn’t have to do any of that, I just did a great haircut.”

 

That moment was the moment Neill discovered that music and hair could work together in a new dynamic way.

A few years later, his brother Edwin Neill, president of Neill Corporation, asked Tatum to take the show on the road by organizing an educational activation in Houston, Texas.

“I had listened to an author talking about Millennials and how they wanted to be able to express themselves, have their own voice,” he says. “I thought, ‘Is it right for me from New Orleans to go into Houston and tell them this is how hair should be? What if we asked Houston what they thought was cool?’”

That was the catalyst for the broader concept of what Elevate is today—a community-based hair show. “Elevate is not my platform, it’s your platform,” Tatum explains. In today’s version of Elevate, he goes to different communities, organizes the venue, brings in the DJ, and then the talent of that community creates the show.

“To my surprise, every city has their own unique style and culture, and it shows up everywhere we go—the show is always different,” he says. “It’s been interesting to see how artists choose to express themselves.”

Since artists are invited to cut hair to music, Elevate encourages stylists and barbers to take the stage for the first time, because they aren’t as intimidated by having to talk through their haircut.

But for Tatum, this is only the beginning. “I believe in the power of the hairdresser. I believe the hairdresser is the most influential person in the entire world. If we as a community came together globally, we could share a message with the entire world within six to eight weeks,” Neill says.

Elevate will be in Nashville on July 23, at Aveda Congress in Minneapolis it late September 24-25, in San Antonio in October, and at Serious Business in New Orleans next January. For more information, visit @elevate hair on Instagram or Elevatehair.com.

Originally posted on Salon Today