10th Don Was Revue, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Mokoomba, Big 3 Palladium Orchestra, Martha Redbone, Las Cafeteras, lead lineup
DEARBORN – Twenty-five years of inspiring, entertaining music representing cultures from around the world, including the indigenous music of Detroit and the United States of America.
Twenty-five years of electrifying free-admission performances, intriguing multicultural vendors and fun for families.
Twenty-five years of fostering understanding, respect and unity among the people of southeast Michigan through music.
And in recent years, the addition of films, forums, workshops and unprecedented collaboration among Detroit’s leading cultural institutions in Midtown.
Produced by the Arab American National Museum, the 25th anniversary of Concert of Colors’ diversity-themed music festival is reflected in the lineup July 12 to 16. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the ever-popular Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue, a labor of love by the Detroit native who is an accomplished and respected producer; this year’s revue theme is Music of Rebellion. As the region looks back at Detroit’s 1967 rebellion 50 years ago, the revue and other compelling offerings create an opportunity for reflection, dialogue and healing.
All performances, panels and workshops are free and open to the public. Registration is required for most panels and workshops; go to www.concertofcolors.com for details.
First, music. This year’s headliners include the All-Star Revue, as well as acts representing Africa, Latin America, the Motor City and America’s earliest peoples. The festival kicks off at 6:30 p.m. July 12 at Third Man Records, 441 W.Canfield in Detroit – a new venue this year – with a program of gospel and world music by Nikki D. Brown and the Sisters of Thunder, Warren Defever, and Pure Heart Travelers.
The festival briefly departs Midtown July 13 for the Forum on Community, Culture & Race at the Arab American National Museum Annex, 13624 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn, focusing on “Art and Rebellion: Detroit Since ’67,” with keynote speaker Thomas Sugrue and performances by Abby Dobson and Las Cafeteras.
July 14 marks a massive creative collaboration curated by the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Michigan Science Center – an evening of spoken-word and musical performances outdoors on the John R Stage — near the entrance to the Science Center, 5020 John R in Detroit.
Avant-garde jazzmen Griot Galaxy and spoken-word artist Aurora Harris headline this program. Topping off the evening is an after party at Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave., including free admission to its “Detroit 67: Perspectives” exhibit.
Earlier in the day, Zimbabwe’s most celebrated young band, Mokoomba, will hold a free workshop and performance at Alkebu-lan Village, 7701 Harper in Detroit, while Los Angeles-based musical-border-breakers Las Cafeteras will stage a similar event at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corp., 1211 Trumbull in Detroit.
The Concert of Colors moves to the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward in Detroit, July 15 and 16, with two indoor stages – the Meijer Main Stage (Orchestra Hall) and the Comerica Diversity Stage in The Cube (formerly known as The Music Box) – and the Wolverine Outdoor Stage curated by University of Michigan – Detroit Center.
Multicultural vendors recruited by Build Institute and The Growth Center at the AANM will enhance the festival experience, both indoors and out, as the music and dialogue continue.
July 15 brings the Don Was Revue and performances by Las Cafeteras, Mokoomba, Sidestepper, DJ Alsultany, and the Chris Canas Band.
Also July 15, The Wright Museum, 315 E. Warren Ave. in Detroit, presents “White Panther Party: A Historic Reunion Commemorating the 1967 Rebellion” from 2 to 4 p.m. This panel features Pun Plamondon, John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair and Genie Parker with moderator Peter Werbe, discussing the anti-racist, anti-imperialist white American political collective founded in response to the 12th Street riot.
The DIA offers a pair of films July 15: “Mali Blues,” a 2016 documentary about the dismantling of musical culture in west Africa nation; and “Sita Sings the Blues,” an animated feature by director Nina Paley.
The festival closes July 16, as audiences experience performances by the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Martha Redbone, Rocky Dawuni, Mokoomba and more, on the Fisher Music Center campus.
A bit further north, the DIA and the Scarab Club unite to celebrate the music of jazz innovator John Coltrane, with a screening of the 2017 documentary “Chasing Trane” at the DIA, 5200 Woodward, followed by a performance of Coltrane’s music by Alex Harding at the Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth.
The Henry Ford College campus radio station WHFR-FM 89.3 will broadcast Comerica Diversity Stage live July 15 and 16.
The festival is sponsored by Meijer; UAW; Comerica; Ford Motor Co.; DTE Energy Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and MGM Grand Detroit.