While I don’t profess to be an expert on other cultures, I’d be willing to wager a bundle that there’s no people that have the bond between their being and their music than Africans throughout the diaspora. As individuals or as a collective music can serve as a muse or an outlet; when we move and/or how we move. Languages, accents, dialects, serve as barriers when we try other means of communication, but when served over instrumentation, spiritually we align. Hard to explain what it is or why it is, but it is!!! Ironical with the month of June, we now have a 30-day time period that centralizes and crystalizes that sentiment in a sense the theory was affirmed by Robert Randolph, one of the most decorated musicians of our generations as Rolling Stone magazine has him listed as one of their “100 All Time Greatest Guitarist.” The question was framed as such: “Black Music Month + JUNETEENTH + Robert Randolph equals what?” “Black Power,” was his declarative and succinct response. Perfect answer in light of the surroundings of the conversation as we sat, minutes before the start of the JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST Concert taking place at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Lena Horne Bandshell at Prospect Park; an event produced by the Robert Randolph Foundation. The second annual JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST, a national, multicultural experience, uniting diverse voices and communities in commemoration and celebration of Juneteenth and Black culture was broadcast live around the world and unlike last year featured a LIVE Brooklyn audience for the performances of some of the world’s leading gospel artists, including Tye Tribbett, Deborah Cox, Israel Houghton, Mali Music,
“While Juneteenth, the holiday, marks the symbolic end of slavery in America, our goal is for JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST to represent the accomplishments of Black people in the United States,” Randolph adds. “Through this celebration, our mission is for Juneteenth to serve as an occasion to remember the past, acknowledge our progression and take collective action towards creating a ‘more perfect union’ for all Americans.” With this being year two JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST is made possible by phenomenal sponsors and partners, including Heal America, Levitt Foundation, and LiveOne as the official streaming partner.
Branden Polk, director of strategic partnerships of Heal America, a movement to fight racial injustice with love and redemption, chimed in, “Heal America is honored to partner on the second annual JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST with the Robert Randolph Foundation. Last year, we witnessed this festival bring a diverse group of individuals together celebrating Black culture and educating viewers on Black history. Now is the time that we must unite and collectively bridge longstanding racial divides. As a minister and supporter of the Heal America movement, I’m inspired to work toward healing and honoring Juneteenth.”
Unityfest was a vehicle in which music was used as a tool to edutain, another event celebrated the creative expression of the musicians themselves. Don Jackson’s Chicago-based Central City Productions, which is also responsible for the Stellar Gospel Music Awards, among other programs brought forth the Black Music Honors. Said, Tevin Campbell, winner of the R&B Icon award, “I believe that every Black artist should be honored this way because no one else is going to honor us.” Walter Scott of the LEGEND Award winners, The Whispers, added in the press room, “This might be my favorite award because it has the word BLACK in it. We are proud and unapologetic in our love for those that make and appreciate Black Music.”
Other winners of the night were:
Karyn White SOUL Music award
Mary Mary––GOSPEL Icon award
Keri Hilson––MUSIC and SONGWRITER Icon award
Dru Hill––URBAN MUSIC Icon award
Jerry Butler––Lifetime Achievement award
Over and out. Holla next week, til then, enjoy the nightlife.