The Ford Foundation presents Midtown music fest July 12-15
When it began back in 1993, the Concert of Colors – Detroit’s annual summer festival celebrating cultural diversity through music – was a modest, single-day affair at Chene Park on Detroit’s riverfront. The lineup included Jerry and Andy Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band (Latin jazz), East Indian vocalist Najma, and Hassan Hakmoun (Moroccan Sufi), drawing an audience of some 2,400 people.
Marking its 20th anniversary in 2012, the Concert of Colors – the Little Festival That Could – has grown and evolved into a major, multi-venue summertime tradition that unites tens of thousands of southeast Michigan residents for free, diverse, high-quality musical presentations in Midtown, one of Detroit’s hottest neighborhoods.
The 20th Concert of Colors takes place Thursday, July 12 through Sunday, July 15, with major support from the fest’s first-ever presenting sponsor – The Ford Foundation, which will also present the 2013 Concert of Colors. The festival welcomes back leading sponsors Meijer, Polk, Comerica and Ford Motor Company, among many other generous, community-minded corporate and media sponsors.
A new partner has been added to the festival’s production team for 2012 – Midtown Detroit Inc. pumps up the musical energy by presenting a free Concert of Colors Tune-Up at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 7, at New Center Park in Detroit, with performances by DJ Ismael (aka festival founder and WDET-FM program host Ismael Ahmed), the new Sean Blackman ensemble Sin Hielo, and world music great Meshell Ndegeocello, hosted by Martin Bandyke of Ann Arbor’s 107.1 FM.
Midtown Detroit Inc. joins festival producers Arab American National Museum, ACCESS, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in producing the 2012 festival. The Wright Museum opens the festival the evening of July 12; it continues July 13 at the DIA, then moves to the Max M. Fisher Music Center for two more days of music (indoors and outdoors) July 14-15, along with family-friendly activities, a Detroit-themed lounge area featuring locally produced foods and goods, and more vendors offering culturally diverse edibles and merchandise.
“When we first started out, the idea was to showcase musical traditions from communities of color. It was a year-to-year thing back then; I never imagined we would go 20 years and become a Detroit institution in the process,” says Ismael Ahmed, who founded the Concert of Colors in 1993 while leading the nonprofit human services agency ACCESS.
“Over the years, we have expanded our programming beyond the original focus. The Concert of Colors today offers music for all types of tastes, backgrounds, ages, genders, something for everyone. That includes the indigenous music of Detroit and music representing the many cultures and ethnicities of the people who live here,” Ahmed says.
The complete musical lineup for the 20th Concert of Colors will be released in early June at www.concertofcolors.com, but it’s safe to say that Detroit’s favorite musical son, Don Was, will be back to mark the 5th anniversary of his Detroit All-Star Revue. On Saturday, July 14, the Revue switches out its typically rock-heavy lineup to spotlight hometown jazz greats. Was, the multi-Grammy-winning super producer and president of legendary Blue Note Records, is carefully crafting the Revue lineup with a guest curator – the great Detroit jazz bassist Marion Hayden – and Concert of Colors founder Ismael Ahmed.
“All proceeds from sales of the CD, entitled Detroit Jazz City, will go to Focus: HOPE food programs, to ensure that children and adults here in Detroit who are most vulnerable to hunger have the resources they need to survive. At the same time, this CD and concert will bring even more well-deserved international attention to our hometown musical greats.”
The 2012 All-Star Revue will be taped live for free distribution as music videos at www.mydamnchannel.com , where Was has been presenting videos from past Revues and many other artists for the last several years. An Internet purveyor of fine entertainment content, primarily comedy series, My Damn Channel was named one of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Websites of 2011.
For further information on the 20th Concert of Colors, celebrating the ethnic and cultural diversity of metro Detroit and our nation through free live music, visit www.concertofcolors.com.