By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The sixth edition of the Back2Black Festival will take place on Friday, March 20th and Saturday, March 21st in Barra da Tijuca’s Fundação Cidade das Artes and will again celebrate the best of African and Afro-Brazilian culture with an additional special tribute to the sounds of Jamaica this year. The two-day festival will include live performances by well known international and national musicians including Damian Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Karol Conká, Stromae, Dream Team do Passinho, and Ludmilla, among others.
During the festival, fourteen shows will take place on two stages, the Palco Rio and the Palco Cidade, in the Cidade das Arte. The venue will also house film screenings, debates, workshops and art exhibitions on both days of the festival.
Created in 2009 and typically held during the later part of the year, the festival was moved up to March this year to help commemorate the 450th anniversary of Rio de Janeiro.
Additionally, there will be a special tribute to the sounds of Jamaica this year with the festival opening with Jamaican-born poet Linton Kwesi Johnson performing on the Palco Rio stage on Friday. Considered the “father of dub poetry”, Johnson will be backed by the Dennis Bovell Dub Band during his show. The Brazilian rap-rock band Planet Hemp, former band of rapper Marcelo D2, will follow with a live performance.
To close the stage on Friday, reggae musician Damian Marley, son of Bob Marley, will perform. Marley has released six studio albums and is known for the singles, “Welcome to Jamrock” and “Make It Bun Dem.”
On the Palco Cidade on Friday, Rio rapper Dughettu will perform first, followed by Curitiba-born rapper Karol Conká. To close out that stage on opening night, the popular group Dream Team do Passinho will perform with Bailarinos Kuduro.
Additional events on Friday will include the debates “O Negro na Invenção do Rio” with musician Nei Lopes and writer and journalist Ruy Castro, and “O Kuduro e a linguagem das periferias” with musician Ângelo Kalaf of the group Buraka Som Sistema and author José Eduardo Agualusa. There will also be a screening of the film “I Love Kuduro.”
On Saturday, the group Alabê Ketujazz, known for blending traditional percussion of the Ketu nation with jazz, will start the night on the Palco Cidade. A set of blended African and Brazilian sounds performed by Aline Frazão, Natasha Llerena, and Toty Sa’Med will follow. Next Mingas, Wazimbo, Moreira Chonguiça and Bailarinos de Marrabenta will perform and funk sensation Ludmilla will perform last to close out the stage.
Brazilian singer-songwriter Lenine will start the night on the Palco Cidade on Saturday. During the show he will be accompanied by the Orkestra Rumpilezz, led by conductor Letieres Leite. Singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo will follow. Known for her mastery of diverse musical styles, the Benin-born singer is a Grammy Award winner.
A very special homage to the black composers of Rio will follow. Directed by Kassin and Liminha the performance will include a tribute to conductor, musician and composer, Lincoln Olivetti, who died earlier this year.
Finally to close out the night, Stromae will perform live. Born Paul Van Haver, Stromae is the Belgian-born son of a Rwandan architect who was killed during the Rwandan Genocide. Musically, Stromae is known for mixing hip-hop and electronic styles. He has released two studio albums and his well known singles include “Alors on danse” and “Papaoutai.”
Additional events on Saturday will include a debate, “Literatura numa África em Conflito,” with literature professor Alain Mabanckou and translator Abdourahman Waberi and “A Utopia Brasileira e os Movimentos Negros”, an interview with Bahian anthropologist Antonio Risério. There will also be a screening of the documentary “Marrabenta.”
What: Back2Black Festival
When: Friday, March 20th and Saturday, March 21st. Doors open at 6PM on both nights.
Where: Fundação Cidade das Artes, Avenida das Américas 5300, Barra da Tijuca