The Ohio Players to close out show on Labor Day, September 2, Comedian Damon William and AfroBeats DJ Sheila O to host entire weekend
Special events and surprises slated for anniversary year
By Raymond Ward, The New 411
Africa International House USA, Inc. (AIH) announced its world-class talent line-up for the 30th Annual African Festival of the Arts (AFA), held over the four-day Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. At 30, the AFA is the progenitor of African inspired cultural festivals in Chicago and across the country. The theme for this special anniversary is “Spirit of Africa.” Each year the AFA draws tens of thousands of people to its long-standing home in Washington Park. The Festival opens from 1 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday – Monday.
The Ohio Players, the 1970’s pioneers of street funk and underground R&B, will headline the finale of the AFA on Labor Day, Monday September 2. Joining AFA as guest host for all of the evening events will be Chicagoan Damon Williams, who began his career at All Jokes Aside Comedy club. Damon can be heard weekly on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show doing the hilariously funny “Seriously Ignorant News.” He will be joined in his hosting duties by Sheila O., AIH board member, international media personality, and the first female disc jockey to host a nationally syndicated AFRO BEATS radio show in the U.S.
Olurotimi Akinosho, known professionally as Rotimi, will take the stage on Saturday, August 31. The Nigerian-American actor, singer, and model is known for his role as Darius Morrison on the Starz series “Boss,” and currently stars as Andre Coleman on “Power,”also on Starz. His 2017 single “Want More” with dancehall artist Kranium established him as a music powerhouse. He’ll be joined by rapper Wale who first rose to prominence in 2006, with his song “Dig Dug.” Themed entertainment will be featured on two stages each day of the Festival’s four-day run. Additional talent announcements are pending. Currently, the line-up includes:
Friday, August 30th – “Steppin’ Under the Stars:” Steppers Set with Ken Bedford and Marzette Griffith; DJ Sam Chapman
Saturday, August 31st – “Afro Fusion:” Rotimi; Wale; Chai Tulani and Calid B (Band); Melody Angel; DJ Farris
Sunday, Sept 1st –“In the Spirit:” Donnie McClurkin, Pleasant Green choir
Chicago Mass Choir, The Kinsmen, Tim Branch and the New Generation AFRO JAZZ
Monday, Sept 2nd – “The Soul of African Fest:” Ohio Players, Terisa Griffin, AFRO B, Tracye Eileen
During the AFA, the Festival grounds come alive as Washington Park is transformed into an African village. Visitors are transported across the Diaspora with interactive engagements, vibrant drumming, museum quality and collectible artifacts, colorful and rich hand-woven fabric and textiles, and other program spaces. Interactive spaces include: Drum & Afro-Folk Village, Children and Family Pavilion, African Heritage Pavilion, African Spirituality, Wellness (Health) Village, Author & Book Pavilion, Fine Art Pavilion, Food Court, and the African Marketplace.
Tickets for these performances are included in the price of festival admission and may be purchased now beginning at $15. In recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the African Festival of the Arts, there are a number of special events that Africa International House will be a part of leading up to the Labor Day Weekend. They include: Bud Billiken Parade Saturday, August 10th, MLK Drive; Annual AFA Gala; Saturday, August 16th, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.