This August marks 50 years of the iconic Woodstock festival that happened in 1969 for three beautiful days in Woodstock, NY were over half a million were in attendance.
“Woodstock 1969 was a reaction by the youth of its time and the conditions we faced,” says Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang. “We proved that it is possible to live together in harmony and with compassion…with only our best selves represented. Woodstock gave people around the world hope, which is why I think it remains relevant today.”
Through out the weekend many now influential rock n’ roll bands played the festival to thousands of millions of hippies with flowers in their long hair, smoking weed and dropping acid. This was mostly a white middle class festival were mostly kids trying to be defiant to the system and the expectations of their parents came to party & revolt.
But where did that leave black kids?
With only 4 black & latino bands/artist who played that weekend including Richie Havens who opened the weekend, Santana, Sly & the Family Stone & ending with Jimi Hendrix who wowed the world with his protest of the Vietnam War when he played the Star Spangled Banner on electric guitar before dying a year later. Mix this with a couple sprinkles of some black and or People of Color in the audience (which you can see in the Jimi Hendrix footage) and you have your bit of color at the festival. This begs the question though were where all the black people if not at Woodstock?
Most black people went to what is being called the “Black Woodstock” or the Harlem Cultural Festival. The Harlem Cultural Festival (also known as “Black Woodstock”) was a series of music concerts held in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City during the summer of 1969 to celebrate African-American music and culture and to promote the continued politics of black pride. Notable participants included Nina Simone, B.B. King, Sly & the Family Stone, Jesse Jackson, Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach, The 5th Dimension, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and Moms Mabley, among many others. For the concert featuring Sly & The Family Stone on June 29, 1969, NYPD refused to provide security, and it was instead provided by the Black Panthers. This took place right after the deaths of both Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcom X. Producer Hal Tulchin filmed the full concert series, though the majority of this film remains commercially unreleased except for bits from Nina Simone’s set.
This black festival is widely unknown to most people when they think of historic festivals of the past both due to not getting as hyped up as Woodstock and not enough footage of the event being released to the public. But as it has been 50 years since both very important music festivals that happened in 1969 I choose to celebrate both.
Now today there is a new music festival popping up everyday and sprinkled into those are some black music festivals done for black people by black people and I wanna shout some of those.
Afro-punk: August 24th & 25th
The whole concept of Afro-punk started out of the brain child of James Spooner who grew up as a black punk. He is a bi-racial kid who listened to Eurocentric punk music but still considered himself black. He didn’t exactly feel he fit in completely with the white kids at punk shows and so in 2003 he went in search of other black kids in the punk scene and Afro-punk was born. Afro-punk as it stands today is a more removed movement from the movie which I feel is still a beautiful thing. This version of the movement is more so about celebrating the sub culture, beauty and social justice of the black community today. They still support the black punk movement on some levels but also support other sub genera groups like alternative R&B, alternative jazz, alternative hip-hop, dance music djs, alternative-pop and just black rock in general. They have brought acts such as D’Angelo, Lenny Kravitz, The Internet, Cee-Lo Green and such which is dope. They even have gone over seas and have a festival in Paris now as well as a festival in the ATL. Afro-punk also supports the natural hair movement a lot and puts a lot of meaning into the afro part of Afro-punk as to mean natural hair not just African-American. They also support the BMX community as well as diy movies and documentaries.
Broccoli City Fest: April 26th-27th
Broccoli City is building thriving urban communities that sustain future generations by mobilizing and educating urban millennials through social impact campaigns and major events. Through our programs we are creating higher standards of sustainable living, environmental sustainability, and community engagement.
#BroccoliCon, held April 25-26, 2019 in Washington, D.C, is the hub where 750+ of the world’s most influential leaders will gather to focus intently on leveraging resources and relationships to address the greatest challenges facing urban communities today. Through a strategically curated program of 50+ workshops, panels, chats, demonstrations, and networking events, the conference engages participants in a dynamic exchange of ideas, solutions and resources to drive local impact on a global scale.
Essence Festival: July 4-7th
The Essence Festival, known as “the party with a purpose”, is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women. It is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States. Locally referred to as the Essence Fest, it has been held in New Orleans, Louisiana since 1994 except for 2006, when it was held in Houston, Texas due to Hurricane Katrina’s effect on New Orleans. It was also held in Durban, South Africa in 2016. It features artists simultaneously performing on a main stage as well as four standing-room only superlounge stages.
New Orleans Jazz Fest: April 26th-May 5th
In April of 1970, Mahalia Jackson, often called the greatest gospel singer, returned to her hometown to appear at the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. While attending the Louisiana Heritage Fair in Congo Square (then known as Beauregard Square), she and Duke Ellington, who also appeared at the event, came upon the Eureka Brass Band leading a crowd of second-line revelers through the Festival grounds. George Wein, producer of the Festival, handed Ms. Jackson a microphone, she sang along with the band and joined the parade… and the spirit of Jazz Fest was born.
Inspired by the spirit of Mahalia Jackson and the Eureka Brass Band back in 1970, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival continues to celebrate the culture of Louisiana with the combined fervor of a gospel hymn and the joy of a jazz parade. The 2019 Festival takes place April 26 through May 5 and it will be the 50th annual celebration.
DC Jazz Fest: June 7th-16th
Since 2004, the DC Jazz Festival (DCJF) organization has provided enriching and entertaining jazz performances and programs that introduce students and adults from all walks of life to jazz; our nation’s singular original art form. DCJF presents a selection of the jazz genre’s most acclaimed artists as well as emerging artists and provides enhanced exposure for the rich treasure trove of musicians from the Washington, DC area. Throughout the year, DCJF nourishes the community with free music education programs that extend our reach into underserved communities and enhance the quality of life for DC public and charter school students.
The Roots Picnic: June 1st
The Roots Picnic is an annual music festival created and hosted by hip hop group, The Roots. Co-founder, Shawn Gee, and manager of The Roots serves as executive producer of the festival. The festival is held in Philadelphia, their hometown at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. The first festival was held on June 7, 2008. The festival is a one-day event but for one year it was expanded for two-days in 2012.
Summer Jam: June 2nd
Hot 97 Summer Jam is a hip-hop music festival in New Jersey. Its recent lineups have included Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and more.
Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival (BHF) is an annual celebration of Hip-Hop music and culture. It is produced The Bodega Agency a wholly owned subsidiary of Brooklyn Bodega, Inc.
Well Until Next Time…Celebrate Music Culture!