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Weekend In Entertainment: CIAA Fan Fest, Mike Epps, Old Crow Medicine Show & More!

Gwendolyn Glenn/ WFAE

It's time to take a look at what's up in the Queen City for the weekend. The CIAA tournament continues this weekend with lots of black college men's and women's basketball teams dunking it out on the court and lots of activities during the CIAA Fan Fest. There is also a soulful performance on stage and a comedy festival in the lineup. Joining WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to give you the 4-1-1 on these events and more is Sarafina Wright, WFAE's "All Things Considered" producer. 

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi Sarafina.

Sarafina Wright:  Hi Gwen.

Glenn: The CIAA kicked off earlier this week and events are slated through the weekend. This one, Sarafina, is special for lots of folk because it's the last year of the tournament in Charlotte -- for now -- before it leaves for Baltimore. We, of course, know about the games at Bojangles' Coliseum and the Spectrum Center, but there are lots of other events for everyone to enjoy. So, Sarafina, where should we start? 

Wright: Yes, for many fans they come from near and far. Every year, thousands of people are here all around Charlotte and they're here for the games and an overall good time, but also for many other events like parties and gatherings. And for many people, it serves as like a homecoming. But many of those events are unofficial CIAA events. There are official events put on by the CIAA. Those include the Step Show on Friday night at the Convention Center. Lots of good music, lots of good stepping. 

Sarafina Wright
WFAE's All Things Considered Producer Sarafina Wright.

Glenn: And remind people when you talk about a step show, you're talking about the fraternities and sororities?

Wright: Yes, fraternities and sororities. So Alphas, Omegas, AKAs, Zetas, Iotas. The entire divine nine Greek organizations that are found on the campuses of historically black colleges and other colleges as well. So they face off for a huge trophy and bragging rights. And there’s also the Fan Fest. That’s all day Friday and Saturday at the Convention Center.

Glenn: That’s free right?

Wright: Totally free. And there'll be tons of vendors, guest appearances, but you'll have performances by artists like Musiq Soulchild, Carl Thomas and R&B trio SWV. They're doing like a full, live concert at the Fan Fest. And it's just a great way to really experience the essence of CIAA. 

Glenn: And let's not forget that there's a job fair for students and the general public, a business leadership symposium and a town hall on diversity Thursday. All part of the CIAA.

Now, time for some laughs. Comedian Mike Epps is headlining the Fabulously Funny Comedy Festival on Saturday. There are also several other comedians in the lineup. Who are some of them?

Wright: This will definitely be an action-packed show. You have comedy veterans headlining like Mike Epps and Lavell Crawford, but you also have some new school comedians like DC Young Fly, Jess Hilarious and Kountry Wayne who’ve really made a name for themselves on social media. I'm actually going to this show with some friends. I really think it will be worth the very expensive ticket price because you get five good acts over the course of three hours. 

Glenn: What time and where?

Wright: Show starts at 7 p.m. at Bojangles' Coliseum. 

Glenn: On to some music. Grammy-award winner Old Crow Medicine Show takes the stage Thursday at Knight Theatre. Sarafina, what do we know about them?

Wright: The story goes that Old Crow Medicine Show started on street corners in New York and Canada about 20 years ago. They eventually found themselves in Boone, North Carolina, where they caught the attention of folk icon Doc Watson while playing in front of a pharmacy, which you know is good luck for them. He invited the band to play at his festival, MerleFest, helping to launch their career. And pretty much the rest is modern history. They've really just had an organic following that's carried them 20 years. 

Glenn: Great time to be in front of a pharmacy. There’s also Kindred and the Family Soul performing live Saturday night. Tell us about them.

Wright: Kindred and the Family Soul, or simply Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, are a husband and wife neo-soul duo. They came on the scene in the early 2000s when the genre of neo soul was really starting to emerge with artists like Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, Kem, India Arie and many more. And there story goes that they met in 1997. They were introduced while they both were in the band The Roots, production camp.

And Fatin was hired to write songs for his future wife, for her solo project at the time. Shortly after meeting they married and became parents, but they say their love for music and their strong creative chemistry birthed Kindred The Family Soul. And they had that beautiful, beautiful song that still plays today “Far Away.” They had hits like "Star" as well. So I think it’s going to be a great show. 

Glenn: Where and when?

Wright: That’s Saturday at the McGlohon Theatre uptown.

Glenn: And a final event starting Saturday through Sunday, Havana Hop is at the Children's Theater of Charlotte. It's a Cuban-inspired play that will take the audience on a cultural journey that focuses on how the differences that divide us can make us more well-rounded people. Sarafina, thanks for being with us this week. 

Wright: Thank you.

Glenn: That’s Sarafina Wright, producer of WFAE’s "All Things Considered." 

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.
Sarafina Wright is the "All Things Considered" producer for WFAE 90.7 Charlotte’s NPR Source. Before coming to WFAE, she worked as a political correspondent for EBONY.com, staff writer at the Washington Informer and editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge in Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Howard University. When she's not writing professionally, Sarafina can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com or hanging out with her book club, Charlotte West.