July 3, 2014 at 1:00 am

Concert of Colors celebrates cultural diversity in Detroit

Seun Kuti is the son of musician/activist Fela Kuti. (Concert of Colors)

The universal sounds of music and the celebration of cultures will converge at the 22nd Concert of Colors in Detroit’s Midtown over the next week.

“The aim is to bring people from different backgrounds together to celebrate different cultures of our diverse city,” says Ismael Ahmed, Concert of Colors co-founder, director and co-curator. “It's an aim to bring families together and people from not only different backgrounds but different geographies.”

After 22 years, the festival has become so well loved, organizers now feel they can try more new things, Ahmed says.

This year, the festival is adding performers who aren’t necessarily the well-known stars brought to the lineup in the past.

“We decided to bring in people who are huge from the countries they live in, or have made a huge contribution to music here in Detroit as well as the rest of the world,” Ahmed says.

Latin to rock music will fill the air with the Tune Up Concert this Saturday at New Center Park.

“This is really aimed at the neighborhood,” Ahmed says. “We asked what kind of music would people like who live around the park.”

And they came up with two bands: the Chicago AfroBeat Project and African Salsa act Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca.

“Makina Loca means ‘crazy machine.’ So it's a big dance party to kick off the Tune Up,” Ahmed offers.

The second new element is a step outside Midtown to Dearborn and the Arab American National Museum.

While the museum is the main Concert of Colors organizer, it has never been a participating venue. It will host the “Forum on Community, Culture and Race” on Wednesday.

“A lot of artists’ and community people’s work surrounds these three things,” he says. “So it's a chance for people to talk about the work that we do in the community on arts, culture and race relations and talk to each other about how we can do it better.”

The forum is free, but registration is required: www.arab­americanmuseum.org/for­um_on_community.

The music continues in Midtown on July 10, the official festival start date. The Scarab Club will be the venue for the avant-garde jazz of the PD9 Sun Ra Centennial Band.

Right across the street at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Ethiopian-born, Detroit-based poet/musician Mike Ellison will present “Now Is Infinite,” featuring hip-hop, African beats and rock.

On the final day of the festival, Seun Kuti, the youngest son of famed AfroBeat legend Fela Kuti, will headline with his version of Afrobeat.

“I don't think there are enough words to explain how influential my father's music was in my life,” says Kuti by phone while on tour in the United Kingdom. “Afrobeat music is gonna be here forever. We're just playing it how we believe it should sound in 2014.”

Ahmed says Seun is in the same activism pocket as was Fela. “He's not only a musician and an AfroBeat star, but he's a huge political activist in Nigeria, pointing out corruption and moving people to build a better life.”

Kuti will perform songs from his new album, “A Long Way to the Beginning,” named so because he says the album represents the beginning of a new journey for him and for Africa. The album was co-produced by Grammy-winning American jazz pianist Robert Glasper.

Concert of Colors

Concert of Colors

Saturday and July 10-13

Various locations in Midtown Detroit




New Center Park

West Grand Boulevard at Second Avenue

8 p.m. Chicago AfroBeat Project (Afrobeat)

9:30 p.m. Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca (Afro-Latin)

July 10

The Scarab Club

217 Farnsworth Ave.

7 p.m. PD9 Sun Ra Centennial Band (avant jazz)

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

315 E. Warren Ave.

7:30 p.m. Mike Ellison presents “Now Is Infinite” (hip-hop, African beats, rock)

For a complete list of performances, visit www.detroitnews.com/music.

July 11

Detroit Institute of Arts, South Lawn

5200 Woodward Ave.

5 p.m. PanaMO (Latin jazz/salsa)

7 p.m. Cuddle Magic w/ Phyllis Chen (baroque avant garde)

July 12

Max M. Fisher Music Center

3711 Woodward Ave.

1-9 p.m. Food Truck Rally on Parsons Street (Sunday also)

1-9:30 p.m. D:hive BUILD Bazaar in the Atrium (Sunday also)

1-9:30 p.m. Kids crafts with Arts & Scraps on Parsons Street (Sunday also)

Meijer Main Stage/Orchestra Hall

3:30 p.m. Conjunto Chappottin y Sus Estrellas (Cuban Son)

5:30 p.m. Black 47 (Celtic rock)

8 p.m. 7th Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue: Bob Seger’s LIVE BULLET Revisited (rock)

Scott Morgan & the Sights, Spyder Turner, Detroit Cobras, Liz Larin, Nadir w/ Steffanie Christi’an, Doop & The Inside Outlaws, Maysa Harra, The Infatuations, Blaire Alise & The Bombshells, Corktown Popes, Jess Domain, Luder, Lamont Zodiac and The All-Star Revue Band

Comerica Diversity Stage/The Music Box

2 p.m. October Babies (world fusion/rock)

4 p.m. Gabriel Brass Band (New Orleans-style brass)

6:30 p.m. HK & Les Saltimbanks (French/Algerian)

9:30 p.m. Third Coast Kings (funk/soul)

Wolverine Outdoor Stage

(Courtyard behind Orchestra Place)

1 p.m. Royal Blackbirds (blues/rock)

2 p.m. Diviniti (Detroit house)

3 p.m. Wisaal (Arabic/techno)

4 p.m. Awesome Jarvis and The Whales (rock)

5 p.m. Fifth Wall Concept (rock)

6 p.m. Enema Squad (funk)

7 p.m. Rayse Biggs (jazz)

8 p.m. Lola Valley (psychedelic soul)

July 13

Max M. Fisher Music Center

3711 Woodward Ave.

Doors at 1 p.m.

Meijer Main Stage/Orchestra Hall

3:30 p.m. Detroit Symphony Orchestra with Thornetta Davis and special guest conductor John McLaughlin Williams (classical/gospel/blues)

6 p.m. Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks (swing, country, folk rock)

8:30 p.m. Seun Kuti with Fela’s Egypt 80 (Afrobeat)

Comerica Diversity Stage/The Music Box

2 p.m. Taller Than They Appear w/ Maugre's Vaudeville Puppets (folk, klezmer, variety)

4:30 p.m. Sheila Landis featuring Rick Matle (samba jazz)

7 p.m. Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars (African fusion)

9:30 p.m. Wayne Kramer & Melvin Davis’ Rock & Soul Summit (rocking R&B)

Wolverine Outdoor Stage

1 p.m. Living Arts Youth Dance Ensemble (Southwest dance)

2 p.m. Muruga & the Cosmic Hoedown Band (psychedelic world music)

3 p.m. Denise Davis & The Motor City Sensations (R&B, pop, funk)

4 p.m. Howling Diablos (rock)

5 p.m. Allan Barnes (jazz)

6 p.m. Annamaria Austin (R&B)

7 p.m. Sean Dobbins Organ Group (jazz)

8 p.m. Hot Sauce (soul)

Andrea Daniel is a freelance writer.