Summertime, and the living is … exciting, colorful, inspiring, cool and so much more, so be sure to check out some of these amazing events of Afrocentric interest happening both in your own backyard and further afield.


Through Jan. 2016

“Motown the Musical”

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 number 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 the following:

Atlanta Aug. 18-23

Charlotte, N.C. Aug. 25-Sept. 6

Cincinnati Sept. 8-20

Toronto, Canada 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-Jan. 3

Through Aug. 23

“Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere” (Miami)

Presented at the Patricia & Phillip FrostArt 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, because of a variety of life events such as natural disasters, politics, warfare and the like; exotic urban locations; and other places.


Through Aug. 31

Harlem Week (Harlem, NY)

Although running longer than a week, Harlem Week celebrates a wide array of events, highlights, music, family attractions and more that showcase the Harlem community’s rich economic, political, cultural and artistic history—past and present. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the event this year, the more than 2 million visitors from New York and beyond will enjoy more than 100 activities, including indoor and outdoor concerts; R&B, Latin, gospel and theater concerts; a fashion show; a senior citizens day; kid and family programs; a career fair; seminars; the Upper Manhattan Auto Show, a 5K run; and a great deal more.


Through Sept. 13

“Green Machine: The Art of Carlos Luna” (Miami)

Also presented at the Patricia & Phillip FrostArt Museum at Florida International University in Miami, “Green Machine: The Art of Carlos Luna” exhibits the works of this foremost contemporary Cuban artist from his experiences living and working for many years in his native Cuba, in Mexico and in Miami. Visitors will not only see but also experience his large-scale oil- on-canvas paintings, tapestries, Talavera ceramic plates and mixed media on paper and wood, in an expansive 5,000-square-foot exhibition gallery that aptly highlights the breath of his work that the museum’s director describes as “culturally attuned to shifts in the social and political environments of the three countries where he has lived and created art.”



Aug. 7-9

Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival (Long Beach, Calif.)

The annual Long Beach Jazz Festival draws folks from all across the country to enjoy some of the world’s premier jazz and classic R&B artists. Venerable talent gracing the stage this year includes Stephanie Mills, Baby Face, the Stanley Clark Band, Jonathan Butler, Gerald Albright, Keiko Matsui, Mara Hruby and Earl Klugh, among numerous others.


Aug. 21-23

Edmonton’s Labatt Blues Festival (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Featured at the Heritage Amphitheatre along the scenic river valley in Hawrelak Park in Edmonton, Canada, the event is billed as Western Canada’s largest blues festival. This year’s regional and international talent, featuring Grammy, Blues Music, Juno, Maple Blues and IBC award winners, includes Shawn Holt and the Teardrops, Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley, Mr. Sipp, the West Coast Blues All Stars featuring Junior Watson and Bob Corritore and numerous other amazing artists. The festival also encompasses great food, dancing and a Labatt Beer Garden.


Aug. 28-30

Africana Virginia Beach FunkFest (Virginia Beach, Va.)

Every summer, the city of Virginia Beach celebrates the Africana Virginia Beach Funkfest. Located on the beach at 24th Street and sponsored by State Farm, FunkFest celebrates the “American musical style that originated in the mid- to late-1960s, when African-American musicians blended soul music, soulful jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music.” In addition to great music by performers such as Con Funk Shun, Larry Graham & Graham Central, the Zapp Band and others, visitors will also enjoy a wide array of merchandise booths and dance contests.


Aug. 30

Dig-IN, A Taste of Indiana Food Festival (Indianapolis)

Held at the beautiful White River State Park Celebration Plaza in downtown Indianapolis, Dig-IN, A Taste of Indiana is a showcase for Indiana’s top chefs, vintners, brewers, growers and food producers that draws throngs of folks to taste, sip and enjoy the best of what Hoosier State food and culinary creativity has to offer. The festival also encompasses urban gardening exhibits, local expert Q&A sessions and entertainment from Indiana-based musical groups.

Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, “adventures for the mind, bod and belly” (