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Weekend In Entertainment: UniverSoul Circus, Busta Rhymes And Labor Day Fun


Football, fashion, concerts and water sports are few of the things on tap this Labor Day weekend. Oh, and let's not forget the UniverSoul Circus is coming to Charlotte with multicultural acts. You'll get a bit of history, comedy and music that keeps people on their feet in dance mode.

Andy Smith

Andy Smith, arts and culture editor at Charlotte magazine, joins WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to talk about all that and more for the latest edition of Weekend In Entertainment.

Gwendolyn Glenn: OK, so the UniverSoul Circus is back in town through the weekend. Tell us some about it.

Andy Smith: Yeah, the UniverSoul circus is here and it'll be going through Monday, Sept. 2 It's at the old Eastland Mall location on Central Avenue. And the UniverSoul circus is a single-ring circus. It was created by a man named Cedric Walker in the mid-'90s. He's an African American man who had this vision of creating a more representational circus, particularly for performers of color.

And he searched for people all over the world with incredible talents and then he found them and he brought them here.

Glenn: And it's gone from a parking lot in Atlanta 25 years ago to more than 30 cities nationwide and it even went to South Africa. What can people expect to see under their big tent?

Smith: It’s everything you'd want at the circus from live animals, acrobatics, magicians, people on stilts — even some motorcycles spinning in a sphere. And so it's really what you want from the high flyers to the animals. Everything in it represents the performers and sites from all around the world — from the U.S. and Asia to Cuba and Trinidad.

Glenn: I've seen it in the past and it is a great show. There is another big event going on all weekend long: Charlotte Fashion Week.

Smith: Yeah. Charlotte Fashion Week started this week and it has its grand finale on Saturday with their evening runway show at The Ivey Hotel. It's a five-day event where people from both all over the world and people locally have these pop-up boutiques, runway shows, presentations, social outings and that kind of thing.

But it's open to both buyers and just the public and the press like myself. So yeah, if you're interested in fashion or interested in the who’s who of fashion in both our local sphere and the international sphere, I think this is a good place for you.

Glenn: Let's move on to some live performances. Busta Rhymes will be performing at the Fillmore on Friday night?

Smith: That's right. Busta Rhymes. There's been a huge conversation on social media recently about the greatest rappers of all time. A lot of people brought him up. People might know him from the '90s primarily through “Gimme Me Some More” and those Hype Williams music videos. And he's known just for high energy, rapid delivery and he’s just a really creative guy. And so they'll get a high energy show at the Fillmore.

Glenn: And ticket prices, time of the show?

Smith: That's 8 p.m. and general admission tickets are $40. 

Glenn: We also have some football this weekend, right?

Smith: Yeah. There's the Belk college football kickoff, which is an annual game between the two Carolinas. The University of South Carolina Gamecocks are going to be here playing the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, so you'll see a lot of blue and red in uptown, and that's at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, so you can expect large crowds tailgating at uptown.

And there's also the fan fest, which happens before, with live music, kids zone, food and drinks — all that kind of stuff — that opens up at 10 a.m. But the actual game is at 3:30 p.m.

Glenn: And what's up for Sunday?

Smith: On Sunday brings the U.S. National Whitewater Center's annual Labor Day celebration which begins at 9 a.m. and goes to 9 at night. And that has fireworks at the end, but throughout the day you have a stand-up paddle boarding, trail races, live music and just different activities the whole family can take part in. And for people like me who just like to hang out, there's also food and beer.

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.