Black Music Festival brings big names to Downtown Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Black Music Festival brings big names to Downtown Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Black Music Festival brings big names to Downtown Pittsburgh
CP Photo: Kaycee Orwig
People dancing during the 2021 Juneteenth/Black Music Festival at Point State Park

Where can you see some of the biggest names in soul, jazz, blues, and more in Pittsburgh? Point State Park and Market Square host the latest Black Music Festival, an event featuring globally recognized artists, and celebrating the breadth of Black music.

Taking place from July 14 through Sun., July 17, the festival covers jazz, gospel, and hip hop and R&B. The event concludes with a tribute to funk, soul, and blues featuring the BB King Experience (starring King's daughter, Claudette King), a performance by Brownstone, and the Ohio Players.

A press release says the festival is in celebration of Pittsburgh's Black Music culture, including the city's first African American music promoter, Sellers McGee Hall, and "in recognition of Pittsburgh greats Mary Lou Williams, Art Blakey, Stanley Turrentine, Ahmad Jamal, George Benson, Phyllis Hyman, Billy Strayhorn, Erroll Garner, Dakota Staton and many more."

This event was organized by Stop the Violence Pittsburgh and is free and open to the public.

Jazz Day includes a performance by Lalah Hathaway, a five-time Grammy award winner, and daughter of the iconic soul singer Donny Hathaway. Also playing are Debra and Ronnie Laws, two musical siblings who rose to fame in the 1970s and 80s.

Gospel Day will feature Travis Malloy, the Nikki Porter Band, and the Walls Group, with a closing appearance by Pastor John P. Kee.

On Saturday, Classic Hip Hop and R&B Day will include the rapper Rakim, formerly of the duo Eric B. & Rakim, and Tony! Toni! Toné!, a sould/R&B trio best known for the 1990 dance hit "Feels Good." Tony! Toni! Toné! reunited in 2019 with original members Raphael Saadiq, who had gone on to a successful solo career, D’Wayne Wiggins, and Timothy Riley. There will also be a tribute to Phyllis Hyman, a famous, Philadelphia-born singer/songwriter who produced numerous albums and hits before her death in 1995.

Black Music Festival. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thu., July 14. Continues through Sun., July 17. Point State Park and Market Square, Downtown. Free.

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