Hot festivals, vibrant theater productions, cool exhibits and more of Afrocentric interest that educate, share and inspire are all on the travel itinerary for this summer and beyond. Here are just a few to get your warm weather planning underway. Enjoy!
Motown the Musical (Multiple Cities)
One year has passed since the mega theater hit “Motown the Musical,” “the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more,” went on the road. A slew of dates have been added through July 2016 before the play returns to Broadway in the summer of 2016. Additionally, original Broadway cast member Julius Thomas III will be returning to the national tour for a limited engagement in the role of Berry Gordy. The upcoming tour dates are:
Los Angeles Now through June 7
San Diego June 9-14
Costa Mesa, Calif. June 16-28
Milwaukee July 7-12
Memphis, July 14-19
Houston July 21-26
Dallas July 28-Aug. 16
Atlanta Aug. 18-23
Charlotte, N.C. Aug. 25-Sept. 6
Cincinnati Sept. 8-20
Toronto Sept. 22-Nov. 1
Providence, R.I. Nov. 3-8
Rochester, N.Y. Nov. 10-15
Schenectady, N.Y. Nov. 17-22
Greenville, S.C. Nov. 24-29
Washington, D.C. Dec. 1, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016
Through July 19
Arguably the most soulful circus on the planet, the UniverSoul Circus presents an entertaining, family friendly show produced, directed and managed by primarily people of color. Its entertainers are world-class acts from around the globe, including clowns, aerialists, Caribbean and hip-hop dancers, magicians, contortionists, wild animal tamers, daredevils and more.
Now through June 7 Baltimore
June 10-21 Norfolk, Va.
June 24-July 19 Washington, D.C.
Through July 31
“Barkley Hendricks: Oh Snap” (Philadelphia)
The Art Sanctuary Gallery in Philadelphia is proud to host the special exhibit “Barkley Hendricks: Oh Snap,” featuring the rarely seen works of contemporary artist Barkley Hendricks. Known for his pioneering contributions to Black portraiture and conceptualism, Hendricks’ life-sized oil paint portraits beautifully and poignantly depict people of color in a variety of life scenes. The exhibit will also feature photographs from his time in Lagos, streetscapes and shots of Fela Kuti, the late drummer, pianist, civil rights activist and songwriter who pioneered Afrobeat music and was repeatedly arrested and beaten for writing lyrics that questioned the Nigerian government.
June 13-Aug. 23
“Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere” (Miami)
Presented at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, “Creole World” highlights the photographic excellence of artist Richard Sexton, who has spent the past 40 years “capturing the architectural and urban similarities of Latin Caribbean cities throughout the interconnected Creole world: Haiti, Colombia, Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Panama and New Orleans.” The exhibit is peppered with beautiful photographic essays, plus 50 photographs from Sexton’s travels, that together map the visual, historical and cultural connections between the destinations, including difficult to travel to and challenging to photograph neighborhoods, exotic urban locations and other places because of a variety of life events, such as natural disasters, politics, warfare and the like.
23rd annual Capital Jazz Fest (Columbia, Md.)
Celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year, the annual Capital Jazz Fest presents some of the best live contemporary jazz and soul music in one place. Held on a picturesque, 40-acre natural wooded setting known as Symphony Woods at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. (between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore), the festival draws tens of thousands of music lovers from throughout the country. This year’s lineup includes Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Earl Klugh, India Arie, Najee, Boney James, Patti Austin, Roy Ayers, Harvey Mason and many other venerable artists. In addition to the outstanding vibe, festival goers can enjoy artist workshops, culinary stations, art and crafts booths and late night after-parties.
Chicago Blues Festival (Chicago)
Celebrating 32 years this summer, the annual Chicago Blues Festival is the largest free blues festival in the world and the largest Chicago music festival. The three-day event this year showcases the talents of Zora Young, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, Toronzo Cannon, Clarence Carter, Syl Johnson, and Willie Dixon, among others, on five stages, delighting the estimated 500,000 blues fans that attend each year.
40th annual Odunde Festival (Philadelphia)
Marking the New Year for Africans and African-Americans around the globe and based on African Yoruba traditions, the annual Odunde Festival is reportedly the largest African-American street festival in the country. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the festival encompasses live entertainment, an African marketplace, culinary vendors, over 100 arts and crafts booths, and a Hip Hop Legends concert featuring Chubb Rock, Kurtis Blow, Special Ed and Kwame. Stretching over 12 city blocks, the festival is one of the most anticipated of the year.
Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, featuring “adventures for the mind, bod and belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).