July may be hot, but there are a bevy of festivals, cultural events, exhibits and more happening that are turning up the heat as well. Enjoy and stay cool!


“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 bevy 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:


July 7-12

Memphis, Tenn. July 14-19


July 21-26


July 28-Aug. 16

Atlanta Aug. 18-23

Charlotte, N.C.

Aug. 25-Sept. 6


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

UniverSoul Circus (Washington, D.C.)

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. Their last performance of the year will be in Washington, D.C., through July 19.

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.

215-232-4485, http://artsanctuary.org

Through 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 last 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 due to a variety of life events, i.e., natural disasters, politics, warfare and the like.

305-348-2890, http://thefrost.fiu.edu


July 4

Red, White and Blues Festival (Pleasanton, San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.)

Held at the Alameda County Fair Grounds and free with admission to the fair, the Bay Area Blues Society presents the Red, White and Blues Festival. Outstanding blues and R&B performers appearing this year include Grady Champion, Wanda Diamond, Ron Thompson and the Resistors, Bigcat Tolefree and the Hypnotics, Deeva Stativa and the Blazers and the J.C. Smith Blues Band, among other great acts.

707-647-3962, 510-836-2227, www.bayareabluessociety.net/RedWhiteBlues.html

July 9-19

Indiana Black Expo/Summer Celebration (Indianapolis)

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Indiana Black Expo/Summer Celebration, one of the largest African-American events in the nation. Founded in Indianapolis in 1970 by a group of religious and civic leaders, the Indiana Black Expo attracts over 300,000 people and has continued to serve as an effective voice and vehicle for the social and economic advancement of African-Americans since its inception. This year’s events include a variety of indoor and outdoor musical celebrations with Patti LaBelle, Blackstreet, the Isley Brothers, El DeBarge, Al Hudson and One Way and the Original Lakeside, among others. Among the other popular annual events are the ecumenical and praise and worship services, “Gospel Explosion,” a wide variety of youth events, including a family fun zone, business and education conferences, gospel tour, youth leadership summit and a huge exhibit hall with a wide array of vendors providing information on area and national organizations and others selling food, clothing, jewelry, books, music, hair and personal care products and home furnishings, just to name a few, primarily related the African-American community.

317-925-2702, www.indianablackexpo.com

July 12-18

Reggae SumFest (Montego Bay, Jamaica)

Billed as “the Greatest Reggae Show on Earth,” Reggae SumFest is a musical celebration with a lineup of some of the most popular international stars. This year’s entertainers include Gage, Gully Bop, Jennifer Hudson, I Octane, Chris Martin, Capri, Yazz, Capleton and numerous others. In addition to the Jamaican sun and fabulous beaches of Montego Bay, festivalgoers will also enjoy a “Dancehall Night,” “International Nights” and a beach party.

954-239-7980, www.reggaesumfest.com

July 30-Aug. 2

Toronto Caribbean Carnival/Caribana (Toronto, Canada)

Billed as “North America’s largest cultural festival,” Caribana in Toronto, this year celebrating its 47th anniversary, attracts attendees from all over Canada, the United States and around the globe to celebrate all things Caribbean. From inspiring music including steel pan, reggae, calypso, hip-hop, chutney and soca, to expressive visual and performing arts, delicious Jamaican, Trinidadian and Cuban cuisine, a King and Queen Competition Show, a Junior Carnival and more, Toronto Caribana is an annual favorite. The signature event is the Toronto Caribbean Carnival Parade, to be held Aug. 1, where “over 10,000 masquerades will participate as they strut and dance down the 3.6-kilometer route in elaborate costumes, set to the vibrant Caribbean beats of the famed mas bands.”

416-391-5608, www.caribanatoronto.com

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).