ALBANY — This year’s Black Arts and Cultural Festival will feature performances by Grammy Award-winning artist Jody Watley and one of Jay-Z’s newest protégés, Young Paris, on Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Empire State Plaza.
“The Black Arts and Cultural Festival is our annual celebration of the history, art, culture, and entertainment of the people of the African Diaspora that features a variety of attractions that everyone can enjoy,” said New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn M. Destito. “We’re very excited to have Jody Watley performing at this year’s festival, and I want to thank McDonald’s and all our generous sponsors for helping us to bring an exciting lineup of music, art, dance, and activities to the Empire State Plaza for this cultural event.”
With her multi-platinum selling genre bending catalog that spans decades, the Jody Watley concert experience is vast, rich and always a soulful party. Since her days as the original female lead vocalist of the R&B trio Shalamar, Watley emerged ahead of the pop culture curve and has been at the forefront of some of the most ground-breaking trends and movements in modern pop culture, serving as the style template for today’s women in contemporary music.
Hailing from the city of Hudson, Young Paris will also be a featured performer at this year’s festival. Young Paris recently dropped his critically acclaimed EP titled “Afrobeats,” which includes a remix of “Best of Me,” featuring Nigerian superstar Tiwa Savage, and “One Time,” featuring Reekado Banks. Young Paris’ latest accomplishment finds him as a signee to Jay-Z’s entertainment brand, Roc Nation, which has grounded his mission to bring a new wave of Afrobeats and international vibes to the mainstream music scene, tying in his roots with the times.
The festival will kick off at 2 p.m. with an opening parade on the Plaza that will feature the sounds of Brooklyn United Marching Band, the Wassa Pan Afrika Dance Ensemble, the Mini Tone Steppers, and other local community groups. The parade will showcase the partnership of history and culture that is the core of the community.
The day’s lineup will also include performances by local rap artist Kay Hollywood, The Jazzmanian Devils, a jazz band comprised of Albany High School students and recent alumni, gospel with Dr. Rhonda Ferguson and the Capital District Youth Mass Choir, local community choirs, and DJ Brian B.
Activities throughout the day will also include a children’s area with pony rides, face painting, arts and crafts, and bounce rides; a visit from Ronald McDonald; dancing with Her Temple Monologues, 518.BK, and the Frank Chapman Memorial Institute; Her Temple Scratch Academy, where kids can make spin art; Triple Threat All-Stars Cheerleading and Dance; and an Albany Center Gallery satellite exhibit with artists showcasing their work on black arts and culture, including an artist who will create a work of art that day specific to the festival theme. Jamaican and other Caribbean cuisine, chicken, fish, and ribs prepared by local churches, and desserts to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
For updates and information on opening acts, follow @plazaevents on Twitter, visit Empire State Plaza on Facebook, call (518) 474-4759 or visit www.empirestateplaza.org.