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The 46th annual International African Arts Festival (IAAF) returns to Fort Greene from July 1–4, for a four-day event highlighting African and culture and music, and its Diasporic roots. As with the previous festivals, this year’s show includes different aspects of Caribbean culture, which will be on display at the newly created “Reggae Night,” which features appearances of artists, Denroy Morgan, Gary Nesta Pine and The Love Generation Band, and for the first time, British Dependency from Anguilla. The slight change to the fest will be showcasing a variety of African-based musical sounds each day, said the executive director of the festival.

“We do reggae almost every year but we don’t usually call it that, and we’re doing it a little different this year and will have all the genres together,” said Baba Segun Shabaka.

The sounds of modern afrobeats, funk and soul, and Latin music will be featured, along with reggae which will take the stage on July 3. Several of the Caribbean artists and groups have been to the festival before but have not taken the main stage yet until now, added Shabaka.

“It’s going to be the first time playing for almost all them,” he added. “British Dependency did a libation for us once, and some like Denroy Morgan did something a long time ago but are returning,” he added.

Denroy Morgan and The Love Band will be headlining the festival, along with Fred Wesley and The New JBS, Tito Puente, Jr. and the Kulu Mele African Dance And Drum Ensemble. Other artists performing include Matthew Whitaker, Ismael and the Radiant Select, Milagro Santana Tribute Band, and Ohio’s Maestro Sounds, according to Shabaka.

And there will also be a tribute to Louis Armstrong with a set by ensemble group, 3hree for Louis, which includes a bassist, drummer, and three trumpeteers, specializing in paying homage to the late jazz musician.

Shabaka says the artists in this year’s lineup by popular demand from concert-goers at previous festivals, and adds that in to enjoy the full experience of the festival is to participate the first day.

“These artists come highly recommended from people in our festival,” he said. “It’s a really impressive lineup that you’re going to get all day and everyday. You have to come the first day, because if you come the last day you’ll say ‘Wow, what did I miss.’”

Shabaka says for close to five decades, people from all over the city have participated in the International African Arts Festival, which brings a space to celebrating African culture.

“For 46 years we’ve been able to do this and it’s is a very unique and cultural experience because it’s very family-oriented and very family friendly,” he said. “We want to be able to move through a community of peace, harmony, and blissfulness, and have the kind of interaction that we need because hope is the forerunner to the community that we want to bring into being.”

International African Arts Festival at Commodore Barry Park [Flushing Avenue and Navy Street in Fort Greene, (7180 638-6700, www.iaafestival.org]. July 1–4, 10 am–9 pm. $5 ($2 suggested donation for children).

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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