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Arts & Culture
Each Thursday, WFAE checks in with a local arts and entertainment reporter about things to do in Charlotte during the upcoming weekend.

'Unforgettable' Weekend Events Include Nat King Cole Tribute, Panthers Fan Fest And Harlem Globetrotters

Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole won't actually be performing this weekend, but a celebration of his songs at MiddleCJazz will bring him to life.

It’s time, once again, to preview this weekend’s art and entertainment events in the Charlotte area. The Carolina Panthers are hosting their annual Fan Fest this weekend. The 8th Annual Charlotte African American festival kicks off on Saturday, and the Vinyl Versuz Summer Series closes with a tribute to Beyonce.

With WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to help preview these and other events on this edition of Weekend in Entertainment is Jodie Valade, co-writer of WFAE’s arts and entertainment newsletter Tapestry.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi Jodie!

Jodie Valade: Hey, Gwen! How are you?

Glenn: I want to get back into this Vinyl Versuz Summer Series. This painting collage theme for the evening will be a “battle” between Beyonce and her artistic alter ego, Sasha Fierce. But that’s not the only thing about this event. Tell us more.

Visual artist Jaianna McCants created JVinylArts and Vinyl Versuz.

Valade: Sure. So, as you said it’s actually a painting and collage workshop. And what happens is people upcycle vinyl records in the workshop, and create works of art.

When you register for this, you choose which of the two artists you prefer – so it’s sort of an informal popularity contest – and you get supplies of your favorite sent to your home. There’s also a trivia game and a singalong as part of the event.

Glenn: And this is a virtual event, so those who are COVID-conscious can participate with little fear, right?

Valade: Yes, definitely. With delta surging right now, I’m guessing virtual events are probably going to be more popular for a little while. There have already been two of these Vinyl Versuz events this summer featuring Tupac vs. Biggie and Diana Ross vs. Aretha Franklin.

Glenn: What is the date and time of this event and how can people RSVP?

Valade: This event is Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., and it’s sold out for now – but check on jvinylart.com to see if any spots open up.

Glenn: Jodie, another amazing sounding virtual event on tap this weekend will be at the Middle C Jazz Club, which is hosting a two-night tribute to Nat King Cole and his late daughter Natalie Cole. You can hear their 1991 duet Unforgettable in the background. Veteran Jazz musicians William Green and Karen Bryant are performing for this event. Remind people about the legendary careers of Nat King Cole and Natalie.

Valade: Well, I still remember when that duet of “Unforgettable” came out in the early 90s, and at the time it used what was considered some amazing digital magic to create it because Nat King Cole had died about 25 years before that. Nat King Cole was such a smooth baritone, with perfect pitch. And his career was pretty groundbreaking, too. He had the first radio show by a Black musician in 1946, and was one of the first Black men to host a television show in 1956.

And his daughter, Natalie, was a big success in the 1970s. She has a three-octave range and had hits like “This Will Be,” “Inseparable” and “Sophisticated Lady.” And, of course, “Unforgettable” with her dad, which won a Grammy award.

Glenn: Now tell us about Bryant and Green, who will be performing their music.

Valade: Well, William Green is a singer and pianist who has spent more than 40 years performing jazz all over the world with some of the top artists. He even once opened for the Rolling Stones, so he has a pretty broad appeal. People say he has an “instant classic” voice.

And Karen Bryant is a jazz singer who grew up in North Carolina and also has performed with lots of stars and she has what people call a “soulful voice.” I’m sure it’ll be really special to hear the two of them together.

Glenn: Dates and times for the events?

Valade: This is Saturday, and there are two performances — at 7 and 9 p.m. There’s also a livestream option if you’re more comfortable watching at home.

Glenn: The 8th Annual Charlotte African American Festival, a big celebration of Black culture and history is Saturday at Spirit Square, with lots of events. Tell us about some of them.

Valade: This is a full-day festival that will have all the things that you love at festivals — music, art, food, dancing, speakers and vendors. It’s a celebration of the heritage and accomplishments of African-Americans, so there will be things like an “Out of Africa” fashion show featuring traditional African clothing, and a book drive focused on collecting books from Black authors.

Glenn: There’s going to also be an Underground Railroad event and they’ve added some new exhibits this year. What are they?

Valade: Well, there’s that Black knowledge initiative book drive and a Motherland Exhibit. But probably the most notable one is a Black Wall Street exhibit, which showcases an area in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that a lot of people – myself included – only learned about in the past couple years.

Black Wall Street was once considered one of the most affluent African American communities in the country at the start of the 20th century. It was a neighborhood that had its own luxury hotels, grocery stores, a school system and hospital. And it was all destroyed 100 years ago during the Tulsa Massacre, when a crowd of white people burned to the ground and about 300 Black people were killed.

It’s a sad and somber moment in our history, but one that’s important to remember.

Glenn: What time will the festivities begin?

Valade: The festival is all day Saturday at Spirit Square, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

(Harlem Globetrotters theme song plays)

Glenn: That song can only mean one thing, the Harlem Globetrotters are back in town! I love them and was sad when Greensboro native and former Globetrotter Curly Neal died last year. He also went to Johnson C. Smith University here in Charlotte. Jodie, tell us more about the Globetrotters and where they are going to be in town.

Valade: Well, the Harlem Globetrotters have been performing for 95 years, if you can believe that. And they have a special connection with Charlotte because of Curly Neal, who was one of their most famous players.

They’ll be at the Spectrum Center for what they’re calling their Spread Game Tour. And they’ll be doing a lot of their behind-the-back, no-look passes and other trick shots that we’ve found so fun for so many years.

Glenn: What time is tip off?

Valade: That’s Sunday at 2 p.m.

Sir Purr
Jodie Valade
You'll be able to say hi to Sir Purr at the Panthers' Fan Fest this weekend.

Glenn: With football season around the corner, the Carolina Panthers 2021 annual Fan Fest is back after taking last year off due to COVID. What are some of the festivities that are taking place this year?

Valade: This is a fun family event every year, so I’m sure a lot of people are glad it’s back. It’s a chance for people to not only get a peek at what the Panthers look like on the field, but also just have a celebration of all things Panthers.

There’s entertainment including appearances by the TopCats, Sir Purr, PurrCussion and the Black & Blue Crew. Then you’ll be able to watch an hour of practice. And then the evening closes with a fireworks and laser show.

Glenn: What time will everything kick off?

Valade: That’s Friday at Bank of America Stadium. Gates open at 5:30 and everything starts at 6 o’clock.

Glenn: Great. The Beyond The Fluffy World Tour featuring comedian Gabriel Iglesias comes to Ovens Auditorium tonight and Friday night. Both shows start at 8 p.m. Petra’s in Plaza Midwood is hosting their Welcome Back Gallery Show featuring art from 25 different artists and music from Petrov and Alan Charmer. The event begins Friday at 6. The 12th Annual Joedance Virtual Film Festival featuring short films with ties to the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee. Proceeds from the festival will benefit pediatric cancer research at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital. The festival kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. And finally, the Eyebrows will be playing at the Evening Muse in NoDa Friday night at 10:30.

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

Valade: Thanks, Gwen! Great to be here.

Glenn: Jodie Valade is a co-writer of WFAE’s Arts and Entertainment newsletter, Tapestry.

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