By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Festival goers will not be disappointed by the amazing line-up that the Back2Black Festival has in store this year on November 23rd – 25th. The largest black culture event in Latin America has never been short of attention-grabbing headliners, attracting world-renowned artists such as Prince, Erykah Badu, Aloe Blacc and Chaka Khan.

Lauryn Hill will be among the performers leading the 2012 Back2Black Festival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Lauryn Hill will be among the performers leading the 2012 Back2Black Festival, photo by Brennan Schnell/Flickr Creative Commons License.

The standard will be no different for 2012, as the event reaches its fourth consecutive year in Rio, international stars will take to the stage at Estação Leopoldina. The festival also sets itself apart from other music events by staging exhibitions and debates.

The opportunity to experience Lauryn Hill’s soulful sound with songs from her much acclaimed album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill live on stage, as well as her popular more recent acoustic work, is certainly not one many will want to miss. For many, her performance will be the most anticipated of the festival.

Regarding hip hop acts, American artist Missy Elliot is one of the major names on the scene. Her quirky music videos have made her stand out and helped her to gain international notoriety.

Rapper Emicida, who – like Missy Elliot – came from humble beginnings, is from São Paulo and is considered one of Brazil’s biggest hip hop revelations and has already played at notable festivals like Coachella and Rock in Rio.

The indie music fans will be pleased to know that representing black alternative music at the festival is the talented singer/songwriter Santigold, who is famous for her seemingly effortless fusion of indie, house, dub and rock. A concert that will satisfy many from Rio’s growing alternative scene.

Nigerian singer Nneka will bring her diverse sound to the stage, photo by fjludo/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Also taking to the stage is captivating singer Nneka, a lot of her music is influenced by reggae, afrobeat and hip hop, and yet some of her songs are more acoustic.

The half Nigerian and half German musician grew up on the Niger Delta; the oil-rich delta has often been in the news because of the devastating pollution that the area suffered at the hands of major oil companies. Through English and the Ibgo dialect, she tries to draw attention to issues of war, poverty and capitalism.

One of the main objectives of the festival is to reconstruct the connection of modern society with it’s African roots, through music, art and debates.

Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil, who played at London’s first Back2Black Festival in July, told O Globo “It is so important to go to festivals, an event that unifies people with art and music, and black people, for everyone to be equal.”

“It seems like it’s not a necessity but it is necessary and the whole world needs it. Its important to show mixed race culture and true blackness, the beginning of everything,” the influential singer explained.

Jazz lovers will be delighted to see South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela in the line-up. Also in the line-up is Brazilian musician Gal Costa, who has been around since the sixties and is most famous for her hypnotic song Barato Total.

What: 2012 Back2Black Festival
Tickets: R$120 for 1 day, R$220 for 2 days, R$300 for 3 days (and students pay half price)
When: November 23th – 25th
Where: Estação Leopoldina


  1. I was at this festival last year. It was as white as white bread. I and about five others were the only Black people present, when I inquired why, they said the cost of the ticket keeps majority of the Blacks away. It was a very dissapointing experience, even though the music with Seun Kuti espescially was great. The organizers should find a way to attract the masses of blacks to this event. In my opinion, there is nothing black about the back to black festival except the artistes.


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