According to VStar Entertainment’s Amy Rahja, it is impossible to get through a conversation with the director of booking without her bringing up her beloved home state of Michigan.
“It is home. It is where I grew up. It is what I know,” Rahja tells Amplify. “It is a really real, down-to-earth place. Family is really important to people there and I identify with that. It is a big thing for me, family, friends and the community.”
Growing up just south of Detroit in a small suburb, Rahja played sports as a kid and transitioned into watching games with her friends and family when she got older. She moved about an hour away to attend college at University of Michigan, where they also cultivated a sense of community around education and athletics.
Rahja majored in psychology and found herself scrambling to get an internship on her resume before she left school.
“I was looking for an internship and one of my advisors suggested I applied for this internship with Olympia Entertainment,” Rahja says. “I didn’t know what I was applying for or what it would end up being.”
Olympia Entertainment is a sports and entertainment company based out of the Fox Theatre in Detroit, which recently opened the Little Caesars Arena in Michigan.
“It worked out perfectly and I was bit by the entertainment bug and live events. As soon as I worked my first couple of shows, it was ‘Wow. This is cool. This is what I want to do,'” Rahja says. “I can’t think of a better place to enter the industry because they represent all facets of it. Arms of the company were working on concerts, they have development, it was sports. It was all encompassing.”
Rahja joined the marketing department where she ended up with first-hand experience in all of the events including a yearly residency from a live Sesame Street show. Her involvement in family shows helped land her a position of director of booking for Feld Entertainment and now at VStar Entertainment.
“There is something about family entertainment. It is really cool to think that this is probably the first experience that a person is having with a live event,” says Rahja. “To see one of our shows and hopefully they are falling in love the experience of going to an event. There is something really cool in knowing you’re involved in that.”
Amplify caught up with Rahja to learn more about five of her favorite shows.
Bob Seger at Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan
Sept. 23, 2017
Growing up in Michigan, I can vividly remember my parents playing Seger and me dancing around our living room. He’s always been on my list of “must see performers” but it had never worked out until last fall when he played his final show at the Palace of Auburn Hills. It was a magical night filled with hit song after hit song after hit song. I’ve seen artists half his age not perform with as much passion and intensity as he did. This was truly a night to remember and a fantastic way to say goodbye to the arena.
Snow Patrol at Ascot Room at Minneapolis
April 26, 2004
I was in my first week working for Clear Channel Entertainment when Rich Best (now at Live Nation) suggested I go check out Snow Patrol in the Ascot Room. I’d never heard of them but not wanting to disappoint the new boss, I stopped by the show. Best decision ever. I loved every song, bought their CD and promptly told everyone I knew about the band. This was long before people began posting every moment of their lives on social media but had it been an option, I would have driven my friends insane posting about Snow Patrol!
Prince at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit
June 23, 2001
I think we can all agree that Prince was an amazing performer but I remember this particular show for more than just his skill on stage. I received a call from Prince’s team a few days before his show. He wanted us to set up a meeting with key program directors and influencers at radio. I had the privilege to listen to him ask poignant and insightful questions about the music industry and discuss where he thought it was headed and then I watched him take the stage and deliver a phenomenal performance.
Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago
August 1-2, 2008
Birthdays are a big deal to me and I was lucky enough to spend mine at Lollapalooza thanks to my dear friend, James DeCoursey. (This was one of those “milestone birthdays” too). I spent three days celebrating and watching amazing performances from some of my favorite artists. Bands like Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, The Raconteurs, Lupe Fiasco, MGMT, The Ting Tings and more. This is my one and only festival experience. I’ve contemplated going to others but always go back to how unbelievable this experience was and wonder if it could be topped.
Metallica & Silversun Pickups at Stubb’s in Austin
March 21, 2009
I won’t lie, I was in this one at SXSW for Silversun but found myself blown away by seeing Metallica in a small outdoor venue. Words can’t really describe how cool this experience was.