2009 Chicago African Festival of the Arts

Washington Park, Chicago, IL, Sept.4-7, 2009

George Clinton guitarist
George Clinton guitarist
George Clinton
George Clinton
Sly Stone
Sly Stone

Story by James Walker, Jr.
The 20th annual Festival recently held over the Labor Day Weekend was another success. With ideal Chicago weather , this festival climaxed on Labor Day with an exceptional concert by George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic band. This two hour set was highlighted by the surprise appearance of Sly Stone. Without any announcement, Sly appeared on stage and immediately began singing some of his old hits. The audience was absolutely ecstatic!!

In addition to the exceptional music, the crowd was entertained throughout the weekend in the "Drumming Village" by the Kenya Safari Acrobats. These young men were amazing with their daredevil acrobatics.

Other acts viewed by this writer included "Los 3 de la Habana" who recently migrated to the U.S. from Cuba.Their combined sounds of Cuban percussion complemented by outstanding vocals was infectious.

Special mention must be given to South African vocalist Lorraine Klaasen who graced the main stage with her upbeat style and stage presence. She sings in several languages and her delivery captivated the audience.

Local vocalist Ugochi also made her impact on the audience with her variety of vocals featuring hip-hop, R&B, Jazz and Reggae(she can often be seen at the Wild Hair on the north side). Much of her set was taken from her critically acclaimed cd "African Butterfly".

In the same vein, Reggae vocalist Fada Dougou paid tribute to the late legendary Jamacian vocalist Bob Marley, with his "Who Shot The Sheriff". This number certainly pleased those in attendance.

This festival unlike most in Chicago is a diverse display of talent from all over the world and this was quite obvious with the appearance of the beautiful" Khalidah's North African Dance Experience" attired in their lovely native garb.

And finally, what would a Chicago festival be like without a Gospel Choir. This city is noted for outstanding gospel music and the Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church Choir represented this genre extremely well with their set on Labor Day.

In addition to the musical acts, the heart of the Festival is the African Marketplace featuring more than 300 artists and vendors with a variety of Afrocentric wares and food.

Because this festival conflicts with the the Chicago Jazz Festival the first three days, this writer would like to recommend that the organizers feature their Main stage Jazz act on Labor Day, after the completion of the downtown jazz fest.That would afford those Jazz fans an opportunity to partake in both festivals over a four day period.

George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic band

African drummers
African drummers
Dee Alexander
Dee Alexander & friend

Los 3 de la Habana band of Cuba

African Drum Village

Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church Choir

Ugochi and the SJS Band

Fada Dougo

Kenya Safari Acrobats

Khalidah's North American Dance Experience

Lorraine Klassen

Check out other recent concerts reviews and photos

contact James Walker at jwjazz@att.net

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