Concert of Colors celebrates 30th anniversary with Iggy Pop tribute, lots of music and dance

Kaitlyn Luckoff
The Detroit News

A musical tribute to Metro Detroit's own Iggy Pop, a celebration of Caribbean culture, a documentary about diversity and a forum on culture and race are just a few of the events on tap for the 30th anniversary of Concert of Colors. 

The festival that honors diversity will take place Saturday through July 24 at rotating venues in Detroit's Midtown and Cultural Center. The festival will unite a wide array of ethnic groups through song, dance and free expression.

In addition to musical performances, the festival also offers ethnic food, vendors, movies and poetry.

African dancer performing at the festival.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, New Detroit was formed to unite  community leaders to help connect communities of color and focus on solving some of the city's issues, said Ismael Ahmed,  director of access at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services and a board member of New Detroit.

The group planned a series of events that proved to be successful, so then Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young asked New Detroit to plan an event at Chene Park. 

That event in 1993 was the first Concert of Colors. 

The concert drew a crowd of about  5,000 people, Ahmed said. As the concert evolved, it remained free to people regardless of economic status. Within the first 10 years, the concert grew to seven stages and hosted 100,000 people attending over three days. The event expanded again in 2019 to nine days, he said.

"It always featured the music of Detroit, but mostly the aim was to provide the first performances and activities as well as educational activities," Ahmed said. "We had a forum on community culture and race which still exists. We've gone through a lot of changes since then... when the city could no longer do it and New Detroit could no longer do it... we're now at the Detroit Institute of Arts and we work with over 23 other major arts institutions."

Ismael Ahmed, founder of festival.

Ahmed said the concert has a large emphasis on unifying racial groups within the community, along with a focus on the city of Detroit. 

"Our goal is to bring people together across (racial) lines to learn about each other's cultures, and also to become allies," Ahmed said. "We try to expose people to all of the great cultures and peoples of the region so that we can cross lines and build our own community of active love and life."

This year, the National Arab Orchestra will perform at the Concert of Colors for the first time. Conductor Michael Ibrahim founded the group 14 years ago as a self-discovery passion project to find his identity as an American through music.

"It's a great world music festival that we have here in Detroit, I'm really excited to be able to have the NAO perform at the concert and be a part of the event," Ibrahim said. "The mission of the orchestra is to be a platform for cultural engagement, so it's a platform for people to be able to engage with our culture. We do that because we believe that when people get to know each other, you break down barriers and you build bridges between communities, you create a nicer space for everyone to live in. The Concert of Colors does exactly that as well, they feature all kinds of different music from all over the world and gives people an opportunity to expand their horizons."

Concert of Colors audience enjoys musical performance.

This year, an entire day will be dedicated to celebrating the people of the Caribbean, titled Caribbean Carnival Day. Attendees will be able to join a parade, listen to multiple reggae and soca bands, as well as explore a Caribbean food tent.

Last year, the concert was completely virtual but still attracted 200,000 listeners, Ahmed said. But despite attracting a large virtual crowd, the concert will come roaring back with a live event this year with even more stages, he said. 

"It's a pretty amazing lineup," Ahmed said. "This year, we'll be doing a tribute to Iggy Pop and there will be a lot of great Detroit performers, some of them national and some of them not. We'll also be doing a documentary on the history of the Concert of Colors with the DIA, and people can go to the DIA site to see the documentary. It's taken us three years and we've just finally finished it."

Proof of vaccination will be required to attend indoor concerts. 

The 15th annual Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue: Tribute to Iggy Pop will be held Friday at 9 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

kluckoff@detroitnews.com

2022 Concert of Colors

Admission is free for all events.

Saturday

Lowriders Regional Cruise-in and USO Family Car Club Picnic – Concert of Colors Kickoff

noon-4 p.m. Saturday at the Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave.

USO Car Club is partnering with Inside Southwest Detroit to bring lowriders from the neighborhood and around the country for its Midwest Regional Picnic, celebrating USO Car Club's 30th anniversary worldwide and 15 years in Detroit.

Masks and vaccinations are optional.

Monday

Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture & Race: No War Anywhere! 

6 p.m. at the Arab American National Museum, 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

Keynote speaker: Charles Ezra Ferrell, co-director of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center of Nurturing Community Leadership, and a strategic relationship development consultant for Charity Consultants, International.

Wednesday, July 20

Film: "Concert of Colors: Unity in Diversity"

7:30 p.m. at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

The film will also air at 9 p.m. July 25 on WTVS Detroit Public TV.

Thursday

Science of Sound and Color Science Demonstrations

at the Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R St., Detroit

Investigate the science of sound and color through hands-on activities designed for the whole family. Visit www.michigansciencecenter.org. 

National Arab Orchestra

6 p.m. at the DSO Sosnick Courtyard, 51 Parsons St., Detroit

The National Arab Orchestra (NAO) preserves and integrates Arab culture through music education, outreach, and performance.

The Paxton/Spangler Septet

6:30 p.m., Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth St., Detroit

The septet will perform music of South African jazz masters.

Dakhabrakha, presented by Wayne State University

8 p.m. at Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

DakhaBrakha is a world-music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine. Reflecting fundamental elements of sound and soul, DakhaBrakha means “give/take” in the old Ukrainian language.

Natu Camara

5 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit

Hailing from Guinea, Africa, Natu Camara began her career in Ideal Black Girls, a quartet considered West Africa’s first all-female R&B / hip-hop group.

Friday

Science of Sound and Color Science Demonstrations

at the Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R St., Detroit

Investigate the science of sound and color through hands-on activities designed for the whole family. Visit www.michigansciencecenter.org.

Aegean Roots

6-6:45 p.m. & 7:15-8 p.m. at the Hellenic Museum, 67 E Kirby St., Detroit

To share the richness of Hellenic heritage and conserve the contributions of Hellenic culture in shaping our world today and in the future. 

Alejandro Escovedo

7 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave.

A celebrated singer and songwriter, Alejandro Escovedo has as eclectic a background and career as any rock artist of his generation.

15th annual Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue: Tribute to Iggy Pop 

9 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

The Don Was All-Star Revue will celebrate the music of Iggy Pop, who celebrated his 75th birthday on April 21st. The All-Star band will  pay tribute to the raw power and legacy of the Godfather of Punk’s solo work and as the lead singer and lyricist of the Stooges, an explosive band that laid the foundation for everyone from the Sex Pistols to Nine Inch Nails.

Saturday, July 23

Caribbean Carnival Day

Event begins at noon with a parade that begins at Cass Cafe on Cass Avenue and head toward the DIA. Everyone's welcome to wear a costume.

Ricanstruction

1 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Led by Latin percussionist, activist, educator and drummer, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Rivera, RicanStruction is Ozzie’s latest performance group celebrating the movement, the rhythms and the cultural richness of Puerto Rico.

Aaron Bravesoul

2:30 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave.

Aaron "BraveSoul" Parrott is one of the top steel pan players in the nation, winning numerous awards and trailblazing his path through the Caribbean and urban communities.

Roots Vibrations

 4 p.m. on the North Lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Roots Vibrations is a musical force celebrating authentic Caribbean sounds. Made up of members from the exotic islands of the Caribbean and the funky streets of Detroit, this band is well known around the city and has been well loved by Concert of Colors audiences for many years.

Indika Reggae

6 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

Indika Reggae is one of the most innovative and influential reggae bands in the Midwest, having won numerous recognitions and awards.

David Rudder & Universal Xpression

8 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, David Rudder is often considered one of Calypso’s most successful artists and performers.

Nafada: Arab Women in Hip-Hop

2 p.m. at Detroit Film Theatre @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Detroit-based electronic/industrial outfit Nafada is a remarkable collaboration of some of the leading female hip-hop artists from Africa and the Middle East, including Medusa Tn (Tunisia), Soultana (Morocco) and Meryam Saci (Algeria).

Marion Hayden presents Eternal Spirit: The Music of Alice Coltrane featuring Brandee Younger 

5 p.m. at the Detroit Film Theatre @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Eternal Spirit: the Music of Alice Coltrane is a multi-generational tribute to a singular figure in the history of American jazz. Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda was a pianist, organist, harpist, singer, composer, and the wife of John Coltrane.

Karsh Kale

8 p.m. at Detroit Film Theatre @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

The British-born producer and multi-instrumentalist of Indian heritage has spent the last two decades zigzagging the world, headlining major festivals, and spinning records at the White House for Barack Obama. Described by Billboard Magazine as a “visionary composer and producer”, Kale has created a new genre of electronica music and culture, incorporating Indian classical music, rock, jazz and hip hop.

Detroit Excellence in Youth Arts

1 p.m. Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

2022 Concert of Colors DEYA Youth Stage 

1-5 p.m. outside the DIA at Farnsworth and Woodward.

This event is sponsored by the Skillman Foundation and coordinated by Detroit Excellence in Youth Arts (DEYA) at Connect Detroit

July 23from 1:00 to 5:00 PM

Paul Krawl and the Kingsnakes

5:30 p.m. at the Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit

Paul Krawl is one of the many musicians who had a role in defining the era of late '60s blues-based rock & roll. He was at Monterey Pops in 1967 backing up Johnny Winter during an incendiary performance.

Tumbo Bravo

 7 p.m. at the Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

This Cuban Jazz Combo has released five CDs of mostly original compositions entertaining fans around the world. The band has won three Detroit Music Awards and each member brings a high level of experience with Afro-Cuban music.

Steve Somers Band

8:30 p.m. Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

Steve Somers's band plays a variety of music styles from Motown to classic rock.

Sunday, July 24

Concert of Colors Yoga with Mystery Bliss 

11 a.m. North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit

Concert of Colors Yoga is an all-levels, Hatha yoga class that is accessible to all ages. Participants should bring water, a yoga mat or towel/blanket, and sun protection since the class will be outside. Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver.

Flowers of Medina

2:30 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

The Flowers of Medina are six Arab Muslim women who perform Sufi music based in Koranic verses. They are truly a heavenly Detroit-based acapella group.

Martha Redbone

4:30 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit

Martha Redbone is a Native and African-American singer, composer, educator and performer known for her unique mix of folk, blues, and gospel. She burst onto the scene at the 2002 Native American Music Awards, and her album Skintalk won the Independent Music Award for Best R&B Album in 2007.

Battle of Santiago

6:30 p.m. at North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Battle of Santiago combines ancient Afro-Cuban rhythms and chants with a distinctly Canadian post-rock spirit and sensibility. Fused by dynamic elements of jazz, the result is a party-forward experience that has brought them to stages across the globe.

Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber conducted by Vernon Reid of Living Colour 

9 p.m. on the North Lawn at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Founded in 1999 by the Village Voice’s Gregory Stephen Tate (1957-2021) and co-led with Dayton, Ohio bassist Jared Michael Nickerson, BSAC is an NYC-territory band, described as “a place where Sun Ra’s Arkestra meets George Clinton’s Funkadelic/Parliament.” Guitarist Vernon Reid joins BSAC as a special guest for the Concert of Colors.

Nanny Assis: Sounds of Brazil

2 p.m. Detroit Film Theatre @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Samba Jazz artist Nanny Assis was born in the northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador, one of Brazil’s first cities with predominant African influences.

Amp Fiddler & Urban Art Orchestra

5 p.m. at  Detroit Film Theatre @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

International, Detroit-based musician has collaborated with Enchantment, P-Funk, Was Not Was, Brand New Heavies, Seal, Jamiroquai, Slum Village, Moodymann, Lucy Pearl, Angelique Kidjo, Maxwell and more.

Prodigals

8 p.m. at Detroit Film Theatre @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

The Prodigals are an Irish-American punk band that formed in 1997, merging Celtic melodic roots with rock rhythms. Calling their genre of music "jig punk," the Prodigals fall within a tradition epitomized by the Pogues and Black 47.

The Island Guys

1:30 pm. at Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

The Island Guys are a talented Caribbean steel drum band based out of Detroit Michigan. In addition to performing live steel pan music, this versatile group also performs a wide variety of other music such as jazz, Latin, pop, Motown, salsa, Top 40 and Hawaiian.

Jarrod Champion 

3 p.m. on the Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit

Jarrod Champion is a self-taught pianist, vocalist, organist  and songwriter/composer. Born in a suburb east of Detroit, he's the son of two working-class parents, both trained pianists. Originally based in rock and roll, Jarrod eventually spread out into the prominent jazz, blues, funk, soul and traditional country/folk circuits around Detroit.

Jessica Care Moore & Steffanie Christi’an

4:30 p.m. at  Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit

Jessica Care Moore (poet, songwriter, performer) and Steffanie Christi'an (rock singer, performance artist, songwriter) have joined forces to create a fiery blend of rock and roll with poetry.

Obie King

6 p.m. at the Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit,

Obie King, a singer, and songwriter who gives his audience a performance full of high energy, electricity, as a seductive tenor. He has performed at past Concert of Colors and many other venues and private events.

Yabba!

1:30 p.m. at the: Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Yabba Griffiths is a multi-talented musician whose repertoire includes vocalist, songwriter, performer, arranger, band leader, guitarist, and producer. His smooth reggae grooves have captivated audiences around the world.

Mollywop!

9 p.m. on the Wolverine Stage @ Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit,

MollyWop! is a Detroit based band led by Malik Yakini. They play a hard-hitting style of original and classic funk, reggae, rock, hip-hop and more. The band features the soulful sounds of powerful female vocalists.