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Arts & Culture

Weekend In Entertainment: Taking Stock Of Charlotte's Juneteenth Celebration Weekend

Juneteenth Festival of the Carolinas
Dancing on the street outside House of Africa in Plaza Midwood is a common sight during the Juneteenth Festival of the Carolinas.

It's another busy weekend in the Queen City and surrounding areas. The Charlotte Symphony is performing music from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess." There are other outdoor concerts and many Juneteenth events are on tap for the celebration of the day enslaved people in Texas found out in 1865 that they had been emancipated more than two years earlier.

Joining WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn for this segment of Weekend in Entertainment is Patrick Moran, a writer for Queen City Nerve.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Patrick.

Patrick Moran: Hi, Gwendolyn. How are you doing?

Glenn: All is well. So, Patrick, let's start with an outdoor concert. That's Unspoken Tradition, and they will be performing this weekend at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Tell us about them and their style of music.

Moran: They're a regional band. They're playing bluegrass. They do a lot of traditional stuff, but they also take all that they've learned — which bluegrass has these lightning rounds of super solos that will dovetail into each other — and then they apply that to some new traditional songs.

Glenn: When and what time are they playing?

Moran: Friday, June 18. And the show starts at 7 p.m.

Glenn: Another outdoor concert this weekend will feature the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra as part of their summer series. And this weekend, the selections come from Gershwin's Broadway production "Porgy and Bess." Pat, tell us about the show, the music and this weekend's concert.

Moran: They're definitely going for an American feel. This was like they're all-American show. But this is almost like there's just so much American music overflowing with it, so they're able to do "Porgy and Bess." And, you know, it's just an American classic. We think of classics coming from across the sea, but we have a lot of American classics and this is one of them.

Glenn: What day and time?

Moran: That's going to be Friday, June 18, again, 8 p.m. And that is at Symphony Park.


Glenn: OK, and this Saturday is Juneteenth. President Joe Biden signed legislation Thursday making Juneteenth a federal holiday, which received overwhelming support in both houses of Congress. So there's even more to celebrate this Juneteenth. And one of those celebrations is a two-day event organized by officials at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. This is a first for them right, Pat?

Moran: Well yes. Blumenthal is doing the Juneteenth jam. It's live music. There's interactive dance sessions with Reba Bowens. There's demonstrations by Ginga Capoeira, which is like Brazilian martial arts and dance. Hip-hop performances by We Are Hip Hop's A.J. Glasgow. And that is spread over two days, but also spread over at least three locations — Spirit Square, Victoria Yards, and then the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza. It's all uptown.

Glenn: OK, so you can jump around. Pat ,the Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture is also hosting a Juneteenth event centered around drumming and dance on Saturday. Tell us about that and the times.

Moran: This is the Juneteenth African dance experience. It's Elsie Mufuka of MufukaWorks Dance Company. It's an interactive workshop. What Elsie is doing is she'll fill people in on the history of dance, but also how it has been used as a healing force. There's a lot of spirituality tied in with it.

Glenn: And the drumming?

Drums 4 Life
Kojo Bey is the Founder of Drums 4 Life.

Moran: That's part of the same dance experience. And there's African drums — I think most people have heard of like, maybe, talking drums. But again, there's so much more than that encompasses, a myriad of different polyrhythmic drum styles.

Glenn: And times?

Moran: That Saturday, June 19, it's at 7 p.m. and it runs to 8:30.

Glenn: The Gantt Center is also having a film release party on Saturday.

Moran: The event is called Queen City: Brotherhood Leadership and Solutions. And the intent is to create a network for Black Charlotte to incite brotherhood among its leaders. There's a documentary that focuses on Black men. It will offer solutions to problems facing the Black community, and it showcases brothers in various professions, ultimately providing a visual Rolodex of who is in the city, but also, again, the possible solutions and a way forward.

Glenn: And that's from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Gantt Center. Now let's hear a little music Pat from Emaejai, who will be performing along with other groups at a Juneteenth celebration in Davidson this weekend.

Moran: So Emaejai is part of SoulFlo, the Juneteenth Day edition which is in Davidson. So Emaejai is on there with DayVon and Sajoya Jasper and 1WAYNORTH and the SoulFlo Band. And this is all in downtown Davidson. This is the first time there's been a Juneteenth celebration in Davidson. There will also be storytelling and spoken word, in addition to the music.

Glenn: And don't forget the food and vendors.

Moran: Right.

Glenn: Sounds excellent. What time does everything start?

Moran: This is Saturday, June 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m..

Glenn: OK, Pat Quentin Talley and the Soul Providers will be at The Evening Muse on Saturday. Here they are performing for National Public Radio Tiny Desk Concert.

(music recording plays)

Moran: Quentin Talley is a polymath. You know, a lot of people know him from his theater company that he launched, On Q Productions. Soul Providers is, like, it's sort of — I hate to put it in with the soul revival that we kind of see, but there is a lot of that in it. You know, it's sort of old-time soul, and there's really powerful melodies, but also like a powerful feeling. And what is good-time music? There are serious messages in the good-time music.

Glenn: And what time does the show start?

Moran: That is that The Evening Muse. It is Saturday at 7:30 p.m., doors open at 7.

Glenn: OK and there’s also a Juneteenth event at Northridge Middle School Saturday, starting at noon with vendors, music, activities for children; the Durag Fest is Saturday and Sunday at Camp North End; Tiffany Marie and Kyle Capricorn will be performing at the Eastway Regional Recreation Center Saturday at noon; Studio One Seven in Concord is celebrating National Bourbon Day with a Bourbon in Black event on Friday. The event starts at 7 p.m.

The ZENCreative Studio in Charlotte is hosting Black Joy: a Celebration of Black Freedom, Culture, & Creativity on Saturday where people can browse original artwork. And on Sunday, saxophonist and vocalist Marqueal Jordan will be performing at the Middle C Jazz Club. Let’s let him take us out.

Pat, thanks for joining us for this edition of Weekend in Entertainment.

Moran: Oh, thank you. It's been a pleasure for Charlotte's Juneteenth weekend.

Glenn: Patrick Moran is a writer for Queen City Nerve.

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