Queens, New York, August 28th...The first annual Spirit and Harmony Festival is set to take place on Saturday, September 13th at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, NY from noon to 6:00 PM. The concept for this bold and unique post Labor Day undertaking comes from organizers Carl Clay, founder of the Black Spectrum Theater and Dr. Segun Shabaka, acting chair of the International African Arts Festival for whom this festival was a must do. "It was just necessary to bring like minded people together, people who understand spirit and understand harmony and understand what it means in 2014," says Carl Clay. On Saturday, September 13th, families can experience an authentic African festival with representations of the African Diaspora in the areas of music, merchandise, food and more coming from the African continent, the Caribbean and right here in the United States. Billed as a last hurrah, before the cold season, the festival is a first of its kind that promises to bring back the spirit of "what we do in community," says Clay.
Recognizing the powerful influence of music of the African Diaspora, to headline the festival, organizers secured reggae icon, Freddie McGregor alongside his son, Chino; world renowned Jazz/R&B singer and vibraphonist Roy Ayers, who will perform a tribute to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the father of Afro-beat and young Nigerian superstar, WUNMI whose work is also a celebration of her countryman, Fela, whom she simply adores. WUNMI performs in the Afro-Beat tradition with routines punctuated with twists of pop, jazz, hip hop, funk, reggae and so much more. "It's the idea of bringing different musical communities together," says Carl Clay, "the Caribbean artists, the African artist from the continent in a very real and contemporary way, the Jazz fusion of Roy Ayers with his progressive jazz music and uplifting consciousness raising music; that spirit and harmony and bringing it together."
Continuing he says, "Lots of things are being lost...because of the times we need to bring back the spirit of what we do in the community." It is the spirit of what Black Spectrum Theater and International African Arts Festival have each been doing within the community for more than four decades.
As Pan Africanist, 501 (c) (3) non profit tax exempt organizations, both know the challenge that is meted out to African American organizations within the community. "It seems that nowadays, it's harder and harder for many African American organizations that have
been around a long time, it seems they are struggling and it seems the continuity is not there," opines Carl Clay, "There is no harmony in the religious community," says Clay, "There is no harmony in the business community, it seems like everyone is out for self...being for self is not bad, but what do you do for legacy?" he asked, "What are you doing to ensure that you leave what you have inherited in a better place?" "Two grassroots African American cultural institutions with 90 years of community service and struggle are combining their resources and efforts to bring positive and dynamic artists to the community, and change the landscape. They deserve our unwavering support, adds Dr. Shabaka."
Other highlights of the day include painting for the young and young at heart, a Natural Hair Show convened by Karen's Body Beautiful; a fashion show and a Civil War Exhibit for the family. Gates open at Midday and activities go on until 6pm. Families are encouraged to bring their chairs and blankets and come experience the spirit and harmony of the first Spirit and Harmony Festival. Admission is $20 in advance and $25; children 12 years and under are $5; for more information visit www.blackspectrumtheater.com or call 718 723 1800.
About Black Spectrum Theatre Company
Black Spectrum is the only professional theatre company reaching out to people of African descent in Queens NY, serving the large African-American, Caribbean-American, and Latino populations of Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, and Laurelton, and diverse audiences throughout the country. Black Spectrum Theatre Company produces and presents theatre, films, and videos examining issues of social significance to the African-American community. At our 325-seat state-of-art theatre, we serve more than 20,000 audience members annually and reach many thousands more through our nationally distributed social issue video series, mobile stage and school residencies programs.
About International African Arts Festival
Going into its 44th year, the International African Arts Festival (IAAF) has long been part of Brooklyn's cultural landscape. IAAF is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of art forms, traditions and cultural products of Africa and its Diaspora providing opportunities for artistic expressions, entrepreneurship and the sharing of cultural experiences with a diverse audience. From its beginning, IAAF has promoted family-centered events with programming that targets various demographic, in keeping with the versatility of the arts and cultures of the African continent and the African Atlantic communities.