The Journey to Superstardom
By Chandler Myers
There are many stars nowadays who have seemingly been in the spotlight forever. It might even seem like they were born into it! However, the Frank Erwin Center has seen firsthand that every star has to start somewhere. I mean, does anyone remember when Kim Kardashian was just one of Paris Hilton’s sidekicks or when Kanye West was just another producer who was trying to make it in the rap game? In this post, I will highlight the stars of today who made stops at the Erwin Center during their humble beginnings.
Taylor Swift opening for Rascal Flatts as part of the Me and My Gang Tour in 2006
Taylor Swift is one of the most popular country/pop stars in the world today, but there was once a time where she was a supporting act for bigger country stars. In October of 2006, Taylor Swift was a special guest for Rascal Flatts here at the Erwin Center. Swift returned to the Erwin Center in 2010, 2011 and 2013 as the headliner, showing fans who saw her in 2006 her ability to sell out a venue on her own terms.
J. Cole opening for Jay-Z in 2009
Today, J. Cole is definitely one of the most respected rappers in the world, along with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Drake, Kanye West, and other top-tier MC’s. In 2009 however, J. Cole opened for Jay-Z here at the Erwin Center as the “Work Out” star was just introducing himself to the world of hip-hop. J. Cole must have impressed Jay-Z on this tour, because he secured a feature from Hov himself on his debut album “Cole World: A Sideline Story.” In August of 2017, J. Cole returned to the Erwin Center as part of his “4 Your Eyez Only” Tour and put on a tremendous, sold-out show.
The Beastie Boys opening for Madonna as part of the The Virgin Tour in 1985
The Beastie Boys are universally acclaimed as one of the most iconic groups of all time. In 1985 however, The Beastie Boys was just another music group trying to find its way. Madonna stopped at the Erwin Center on a worldwide tour in 1985 with The Beastie Boys as the opener, marking one of the first times Austinites were exposed to the group. The Beastie Boys went on to become one of the most successful groups of the 1990’s and 2000’s, blurring the lines between rock and hip-hop and bringing home three GRAMMY Awards in the process. The Beastie Boys returned to the Erwin Center in 2004 as headliners of a nationwide tour nearly 20 years after opening for Madonna.
In November of 2014, Paige VanZant was just a newcomer in the women’s strawweight division. At UFC Fight Night 57, VanZant beat Kailin Curran in her UFC debut via referee stoppage in the third round. She went on to take the division by storm in 2015 and then decided to venture outside of the octagon. VanZant was a contestant in “Dancing with the Stars” in 2016 and finished in second place. She was also a contestant in the cooking show “Chopped” and actually won the celebrity competition! Whether it is knocking another girl’s teeth out, gracefully dancing across the dance floor, or cooking up a three-course meal, it seems VanZant is a winner in anything she does.
Maren Morris performing at iHeart Country’s Daytime Village in 2016
Maren Morris is a native Texan and was an opener at iHeart Country’s Daytime Village in 2016. While she is young, she is definitely on the rise. The music video for her song “The Middle” with Zedd and Grey premiered at this year’s Grammy Awards, giving the artist more exposure than ever before. This year, she will be part of the star-studded lineup of our iHeart Country Music Festival presented by AT&T. Maybe one day we will see her sell out our arena!
Well there you have it! Many of the stars of today came to the Erwin Center in their infancy and gave us a glimpse of what was to come in the future. While we might just assume they were launched into stardom, many of them put in the hard work and dedication early on, paid their dues, and waited patiently for their opportunities in order to become the stars they are today. You never know, you might just be seeing the next worldwide celebrity opening for one of your favorite artists here at the Erwin Center!!