(CelebrityAccess) — New York’s City Parks Foundation announced the details for Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere, a digital weekly conference series in honor of Black History Month that kicks off on Jan. 15th with a performance commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
Marching On: Celebrating The Life & Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in association with Winter Jazzfest and Voices of a People’s History of the United States will mark the birthday of the slain civil rights leader with appearances by alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin; poet and organizer Mahogany Browne; vocalist and educator C. Anthony Bryant; actress and poet Linda Labeija; NAACP and OBIE-Award winning actor Ty Jones; R&B/soul singer Deva Mahal; R&B singer-songwriter Tarriona “Tank” Ball; and harpist Brandee Younger who was recently awarded Rising Star Harpist in Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 Critics Poll.
The performance will be narrated by curator and multidisciplinary artist Niama Safia Sandy and will premiere on Friday, January 15th at 7:00pm ET on SummerStageAnywhere.org.
Other planned events in the concert series include:
● February 4: “Lift Every Voice” (encore on SummerStageAnywhere.org) at 7:00PM ET. Originally premiered during the 2020 season, this dance and music performance film featuring Khalia Campbell of Alvin Ailey, Desmond Richardson of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Angie Swan of David Byrne’s American Utopia, with creative direction by Danni Gee, SummerStage dance curator, will feature newly added content.
● February 11: “Rodney King” Film Conversation with Roger Guenveur Smith and Dr. Stephanie Leigh Batiste (debut on SummerStageAnywhere.org) at 7:00PM ET. This conversation will focus on the 2017 film “Rodney King” directed by Spike Lee, featuring the Bessie-Award winning solo performance shot at SummerStage in Manhattan’s East River Park, and will feature the writer and star of the film Roger Guenvuer Smith and academic, author, and performance artist Dr. Stephanie Leigh Batiste. They will dive into the performance’s early improvisational roots, international theatrical runs, and its screen adaptation, focusing on the continued resonance of Rodney King in a new decade that has been tragically fraught with unresolved issues of state-sanctioned violence. The film gives voice to the man at the center of the brutal police beating that helped fuel the 1992 Los Angeles uprising. The film is currently streaming on Netflix and in advance of the conversation, will be made available to watch for free by special arrangement (details on how to access the film will be shared at SummerStageAnywhere.org).
● February 18: The Rewind: A Black History Month Celebration featuring
highlights from the 2020 SummerStage Anywhere Season with an introduction by Greg Tate (encore on SummerStageAnywhere.org) at 7:00PM ET. This roundup will feature a highlight reel of Black music and dance artists including Angelique Kidjo and Rennie Harris Puremovement, from our first-ever all-digital SummerStage season with a special introduction by Harlem-based journalist and Black Rock Coalition co-founder, Greg Tate.
● February 25: Michael Mwenso: Hope, Resist & Heal, performance and conversation with Shannon Effinger, in association with New York Music Month Extended Play, an initiative of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Entertainment (debut on SummerStageAnywhere.org) at 7:00PM ET. Musician, artist and social commentator Michael Mwenso offers his unique and ancestral perspective on Black music and its power to heal us. As an African-born queer man growing up in London and New York, Mwenso will dive into a wide range of his own discoveries while shedding light on the Black experience through interludes of his own music. This live studio recording with Mwenso and the Shakes and commentary with arts journalist Shannon Effinger (New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR Music, Pitchfork) will take us on a ride through the continuum and power of Black roots music. He will be joined by his group, Mwenso and the Shakes, a multicultural New York jazz group.
In March, the digital series will pivot to Women’s History Month with Rising Tides in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th. The presentation, co-produced by four four presents, will feature music and dance with artists from Canada and the USA celebrating the strength, beauty and power of women working together.
In April, a commemorative performance is planned to celebrate Poetry Month.