Feel the beat: African-American festival celebrates

Into the dead heat of summer comes the energizing, joyful spirit of Charlottesville’s 14th African-American Cultural Arts Festival. The week-long festival will energize locations around town with a combination of music, poetry, storytelling, and lots of good eats from Saturday, July 19 to Sunday, July 27.
Since its conception in 1989 (inspired by the 1988 Fredericksburg Black Arts Fest and Sol Fest), this festival has been celebrating the rich heritage of people of African ancestry and highlighting their contributions to the community, the nation, and the world.
Chihamba, a non-profit community group dedicated to providing a better understanding of African cultures through soulful drum music and dance, coordinates the event along with other committee members. This year’s theme, “Keeping our Villages Strong” focuses on the role of the past in strengthening the future.
You should really check out the website for a complete listing of events, but here are a few tempting highlights, all with different times, dates, locations and prices:
“An Evening of Creative Expression,” featuring artwork by Painting with Threads, Michael Johnson and Robert Williams, the poetry of Alex Barmore, Joel McDonald and Clyde Daniel Brown III, and the music of George Melvin, Barbara Edwards, and Kimme&Klasse, kicks things off on Saturday, July 19, at 7pm at the Senior Center. $10/$15 at the door includes heavy hors d’oeuvres by GMJ Delites and Chef Brown.
Saturday, July 26, marks a full day of events at Booker T. Washington Park, starting with an 11am drum call and processional by Chihamba and Spiritwalker, and concluding with a Wacky Entertainment music showcase (at 5:45pm), featuring the soothing voice and emotional lyrics of Jarrard Anthony and the truthful, intelligent musings of rapper Millstone.
In between will come events and performers such as Jamal Koram the Storyman, who’ll tell tales under an old oak tree (1pm), a Black Holocaust exhibit entitled “Lest We Forget,” a soulful concert by Claiborne and Company (5pm) and lots of delicious food.
Embrace the heat-– along with the richness of African-American culture-– this week. You’re guaranteed to feel the rhythm, even if you have none.

The 14th Annual African-American Cultural Arts Festival takes place the week of July 19-27, with the main festivities happening at Booker T. Washington Park on Saturday, July 26. For more information on the full schedule of events and tickets, see www.cvilleafrican-amfest.com.