Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival celebrates 50 years of hip-hop

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — This weekend, downtown Grand Rapids will host a variety of arts awards events and celebrate the diversity and richness of Black culture and creativity at the Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival.

On Saturday, September 16, community members and visitors came to Rosa Parks Circle for the festival, which kicked off on Friday, September 15, to immerse themselves in art, music, food and other entertainment and activities to raise awareness of the role of Black people in the arts. Awareness and cultural play in communities.

related: Sugarhill Gang, hip-hop icons, headliners at Grand Rapids African American Arts & Music Festival

The Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival is one of the official opening events of ArtPrize, an 18-day international art competition that opens on Thursday, September 14 and ends on Sunday, October 1.

ArtPrize began working with the African American Cultural Festival 14 years ago in an effort to attract Greater minority participation.

This free festival has been in existence for over 30 years. The festivities begin at noon Saturday and are expected to end at 10:30 p.m. Rosa Parks Circle is located at 135 Monroe Center Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

“I got to see community members I hadn’t seen in years and they were celebrating art, music, dance, all the culture that we love so much…to share with the community,” Knight said.

Knight also performs in her own music group Entice on Saturday at 9:15 p.m.

Several events are scheduled for Saturday, including praise dance, New City Kids, a talk by Antonio Taylor, a Caroline Ferrari fashion and sneaker show and music by Avalon Katz-Jones. A complete list of performances can be viewed on the Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival Facebook page.

Legendary hip-hop group The Sugarhill Gang performed on Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of the cultural and musical movement.

MLive photojournalist Ridley Hudson contributed to this report.

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