Africa International House USA, Inc. (AIH) recently announced its world-class talent line-up for the 29th annual event, during the four-day Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31 – Sept. 3. Chicago’s own TWISTA aka “the fastest rapper in the world” opens on the Main Stage on Saturday, September 1. On Sunday, September 2, Seun Kuti (son of activist Fela Kuti) and his Egypt 80 Band will bring their AfroBeat sound to Washington Park, and Mr. Boombastic, the one and only Shaggy, will close out the festival on Monday. Additionally, rap artist, and daughter of Blues legend Buddy Guy, “Shawnna” will take the stage on September 1 and Ken Bedford will host “Steppin’ Under the Stars” on Friday August 31st.
For 29 years, the highly-anticipated event— one of the largest and longest-running festivals in the Midwest focused on African art and culture 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.
Twista, the pioneering platinum rapper, put Chicago on the ‘rap map’ and made the double-time rap style a staple in the music business. The Windy City rapper has sold millions of albums and popularized a delivery style incorporated by everyone from Jay-Z to Eminem. His latest offering is ‘Dark Horse’ produced by his longtime partner, the Legendary Traxster. For fans of the rapper’s dark, bass-hitting Twista sound, he guarantees it will not disappoint.
Nigerian AfroBeat sensation Seun Kuti, along with the Egypt 80 Band, will take the stage on Saturday, September 1. The Afrobeat pioneer has spent most of his life preserving and extending his father’s political and musical legacy. The saxophonist and percussionist (and former African footballer) performed at Pitchfork earlier this year. Adding his own twist to the music, Seun digs deep into various African traditions to reflect the continent’s struggles and cultures. His debut recording, “Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80,” was initially issued by WM Recordings in 2008. Critics embraced its musical drive and improvisational fervor.
Emerging in the early 90s, Shaggy was the biggest crossover success in dancehall reggae. Not only did he become the genre’s most commercially potent artist in the international market, he has sustained career longevity offering music that is unabashedly geared toward good times, a friendly persona and catchy party anthems. He exhibits eclectic tastes, giving his records a musical variety lacking from other dancehall stars. He is one of the few reggae artists to top the album and pop singles charts in America, not to mention numerous other countries where he’s experienced great success. The Kingston, Jamaica, New York-raised performer was nicknamed after the animated Scooby-Doo character. His 1995 Boombastic was an inescapable hit, selling over a million copies.
Tickets for these performances are included in the price of festival admission and may be purchased now beginning at $15.
The AFA is held annually over Labor Day Weekend, where 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.
On two stages, themed entertainment will be featured each day of the Festival’s four-day run. Additional talent will be forthcoming. Follow the AFA Experience on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #AFAChi.