The theme for this year’s Concert of Colors, a world music festival held July 10-18 in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood, is “Freedom of Expression: The Power of Owning Our Voices.” As a result, attendees can expect a lineup of impactful cultural events and performances by a diverse set of musicians, such as a mobile guitar group, an exiled Egyptian political activist, and Motown icon Martha Reeves.
Concert of Colors acts take place over 10 stages at nine Detroit venues. Locations include the Charles H. Wright Museum of American History, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Sosnick Courtyard, and the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which will serve as the eight-day event’s main stage for the first time this year.
Performers include Tilted Axes, a traveling guitar processional that will honor the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing with a piece titled “Moonwalk;” Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa, a traditional Nigerian Yoruba music group; and Jordanian Palestinian electronic music group 47Soul. On July 13, the festival will host the Detroit All-Star Revue concert. The concert is curated by successful Detroit producer Don Was, and it celebrates the 60th anniversary of Motown. Performers include Reeves, Mitch Ryder, Carolyn Crawford, The Drinkard Sisters, Kenny Watson, and many more.
Other activities offered by the festival include a street party featuring Will Sessions and Dames Brown, community yoga in the DIA, African dance lessons at the Scarab Club, and the festival’s annual panel discussion, which will be held at the Arab American National Museum in nearby Dearborn. Egyptian hard rock singer Ramy Essam will speak on the panel and perform. Essam is known for appearing in Cairo during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, and has been called “the real voice of the Egyptian revolution.”
“As always, Concert of Colors is a festival to bring individuals from every culture and background together and we need that in the face of today’s political climate,” says Ismael Ahmed, founder of the festival. “Adding to that, the concept of ‘freedom of expression’ is meaningful to everyone everywhere on the planet. As Detroit is a phoenix rising, it is critical that all voices from all walks of life are heard.”
Concert of Colors will close with a ticketed late-night birthday tribute to Reeves, who turns 78 on July 18. Apart from the birthday celebration, all Concert of Colors events are no cost.