August Wilson Center fills fall season with music festivals, new series, and more

click to enlarge August Wilson Center fills fall season with music festivals, new series, and more
Photo: Victoria Smith
Shemekia Copeland, part of the Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival
Pittsburgh will soon see a whole lot more music, theater, and readings, all in the name of the city’s celebrated late playwright August Wilson.

The August Wilson African American Cultural Center has announced its fall season featuring a broad range of in-person events and visual arts programming. Even better, the season starts this week with a whole host of concerts at the Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival and the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival.

These festivals will be followed by months of returning and new programming from the Center, including big premieres, art, food, music, and more. Some events will take place Downtown, while others will be staged at locations such as Highmark Stadium and Hazelwood Green, as well as virtually.

“This season, the Center continues to support the cultivation and presentation of cultural experiences that advance the mission and preserve the legacy of our namesake, August Wilson,” says AWAACC CEO and president Janis Burley Wilson in a press release. Burley Wilson expresses excitement over bringing “Pittsburgh’s community together through an extensive array of programs that showcase Black creativity.”

On Wed., Sept. 14 and Thu., Sept. 15, the Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival will feature performances from Grammy award-winning artists and others. From Fri., Sept. 16 through Sun., Sept. 18, the Center will present the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival. (Read more about the festivals at Pittsburgh City Paper's latest top concerts list.)

Burley Wilson also highlights the season’s various theatrical offerings, including the premiere of DEMASKUS Theater Collective’s Chains to Gains, presented as a staged reading at Hazelwood Green, and the Center’s new year-long Beyond the Red Door interactive theater series, described as drawing from the “process, practice, and themes” of Wilson.

Also mentioned are Roger Guenveur Smith’s one-man show Frederick Douglass Now and the Pittsburgh premiere of Rennie Harris Puremovement American Street Dance Theater Company’s RENNIE HARRIS LIFTED! A GOSPEL HOUSE MUSICAL.

The lineup continues with OPTICVOICES: Mama’s Boys, an interactive, mixed-media exhibition by Emmai Alaquiva, the new music series Uhuru Jazz Sessions, and the literary-focused Lit Fridays virtual salon. Also on the schedule is Radio Gulf, a “sound-based exhibition” by Pittsburgh-based composer and artist Ricardo Iamuuri Robinson. Now on view in the Center’s Victoria Gallery, the show is described as exploring “the social gaps by dissecting the game of golf.”

The season concludes with the fourth annual We Want the Funk Festival, a “celebration and reunion of soul and funk music lovers,” featuring Morris Day & The Time, Alexander O’Neal, Bar-Kays, and Con Funk Shun.

For a complete list of the Center’s fall events, visit