Traditional Nigerian Yoruba music with Western elements will be performed by Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa during the Concert of Colors this year.

Traditional Nigerian Yoruba music with Western elements will be performed by Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa during the Concert of Colors this year.

Photo provided by Concert of Colors


Midtown embraces artists from around world for Concert of Colors

By: K. Michelle Moran | Advertiser Times | Published June 17, 2019

 Laura Grimshaw, wife of famed late rock poster art legend Gary Grimshaw, designed the festival poster.

Laura Grimshaw, wife of famed late rock poster art legend Gary Grimshaw, designed the festival poster.

Photo by Gabi Porter, provided by Concert of Colors

DETROIT — Take a musical and cultural journey around the world just by visiting Detroit.

The 27th annual Concert of Colors will bring free concerts and more by artists from around the world to various venues in Midtown from July 10 to 18. After many years staging the festival in and around the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center — home to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and encompassing Orchestra Hall — this year, the festival has found a new home base at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Surrounding institutions, including the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Michigan Science Center, the Scarab Club and the Detroit Historical Museum are among those hosting concerts or other events, such as Afro-Cuban dance lessons at the Scarab Club with Iyawo Folkloric and musical processions by Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars originating at the Michigan Science Center.

Highlights this year include a performance by Egyptian hard rocker and exiled political activist Ramy Essam, traditional Nigerian Yoruba music by Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa, electronic and instrumental hip-hip by Michigan native Shigeto, Ismael & the Earth Island Drummers with special guest Lana Mini’s Oriental Dancers: Dancing on Tarab, jazz drummer Sean Dobbins, and the Palestinian band 47Soul.

The documentary “Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami” will be screened, there will be yoga sessions, and Detroit native Don Was — who has worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Niall Horan — will again host the Detroit All-Star Revue, which this year will be a tribute to the 60th anniversary of Motown Records and will feature Martha Reeves, Melvin Davis, Mitch Ryder, The Velvelettes and Dennis Coffey, to name just a few.

There will be some events at The Max, but the bulk of the programming is at or around the DIA. Expect an eclectic array of music, from rock to jazz to R&B to worldbeat.

“Everything is centralized in this immediate area,” said Ralph Valdez, of Grosse Pointe Woods, deputy director of the Concert of Colors. “The idea was to make it a walkable (event).”

With the exception of Dancing in the Street at 6 p.m. July 18 at the Wright Museum — a celebration marking Reeves’ 78th birthday and Motown’s 60th anniversary with music by Reeves and the Don Was All-Star Revue — all of the events are free. Tickets to Dancing in the Street range from $50 to $100 and can be purchased at www.thewright.org/events.

The festival is honoring other milestone anniversaries as well, including the 100th birthday of the DSO and the International Institute.

Larry Baranski, director of public programs for the DIA, said the museum “has always presented live music,” but nothing on this scale before. The Detroit Film Theatre auditorium inside the DIA will host many of the performances, but other spaces in the museum — including the front lawn — will serve as venues for events such as Lowriders of Detroit, which will showcase custom modern and classic vehicles with modified suspensions.

The Concert of Colors actually started 30 years ago when New Detroit and the service organization ACCESS teamed up to present a series of events in Detroit neighborhoods, said Ismael Ahmed, the former head of ACCESS and the founder of Concert of Colors.

“They were so successful that we had to turn people away,” Ahmed said.

Detroit Mayor Coleman Young then offered organizers the use of Chene Park, and the Concert of Colors was officially born.

“That festival grew to be three days long and embraced some of the best music in the world,” Ahmed said. “Our focus was to build on the cultures of our community to bring people together. … We’ve changed a little bit in that we now focus on all cultures … (but) we still hope for a better world, and we think the arts can make that happen.”

For a full schedule or more information, visit www.concertofcolors.com.