Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival celebrates 50 years of hip-hop –

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Downtown Grand Rapids is bustling with activity this weekend with ArtPrize and the celebration of the diversity and richness of Black culture and creativity at the Grand Rapids African American Art and Music Festival.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, community members and visitors took to Rosa Parks Circle for the festival that kicked off Friday, Sept. 15, to immerse themselves in art, music, food and other entertainment and activities to raise awareness of the role Black arts and culture play in the community.

Related: The Sugarhill Gang, hip hop icons, headlining Grand Rapids African American Art & Music Festival

The Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival is one of the official opening events for ArtPrize, an 18-day international art competition, which kicked off Thursday, Sept. 14, and concludes Sunday, Oct. 1.

ArtPrize began partnering with the African American cultural festival 14 years ago in an effort to bring in more minority representation, said Lisa Knight, board chairperson for the Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival and a city commissioner representing the city’s 2nd Ward.

The free festival has been around for more than 30 years. Festivities kicked off at noon Saturday and were set to end at 10:30 p.m. Rosa Parks Circle is located 135 Monroe Center St. in downtown Grand Rapids.

“I’ve seen community members that I haven’t seen in years out celebrating art, music, dance and all of the culture that we love so much…to share it with the community,” Knight said.

Knight also performs in her own music group, Entice, Saturday at 9:15 p.m.

Multiple events were scheduled Saturday, including Xpressions of Praise Dance, the New City Kids, spoken word from Antonio Taylor, Carolyn Ferrari Fashion and Sneaker Show, and Avalon Cutts-Jones Music. A full list of performances is available on the Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival Facebook page here.

On Friday, legendary hip hop group The Sugarhill Gang performed in recognition of the 50th anniversary of cultural and musical movement.

MLive photojournalist Ridley Hudson contributed to this report.

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