Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones: ‘Songs of Black Folk,’ a curated experience of African American history and culture

Juneteenth is just around the corner.

One of the most anticipated events celebrating the holiday is Sunday night’s ‘Songs of Black Folk,’ at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, a musical tribute to Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery.

The concert features some of the best performers in the country. It tells the story of Juneteenth and brings a message of resistance and hope.

Jesse Jones caught up with some of the Seattle-based singers at Kent’s New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, where it’s practice time.

Karissa Braxton is just one of the Seattle-based singers from Kent’s New Beginnings Christian Fellowship who will perform at the event.

I think the beauty of ‘Songs of Black Folk’ is we’re intentionally curating an experience that is different every year, but it still rides the same theme of resilience and telling the African American experience in this country through music, dance and different art forms,” she said. We really shine light and refocus attention on the contributions that our people have made to those art forms that sometimes get lost in translation to others.”

This is the third production of ‘Songs of Black Folk.’ It features acts from across the country, performing a wide history of Black music from spiritual to spoken word.

Two Seattle area singers, Zhanea June and Chandler Williams, are set to perform.

“Just this powerful demonstration. Black art. Black music. Just on the highest level,” said Chandler, who is a graduate of Garfield High School and studied at the highly regarded Berklee College of Music in Boston. “I’ve been holding down a tenor section, but to step out front this year, it’ll be definitely something to look forward to,” said Chandler.

Tacoma native and nationally renowned orchestra conductor Ramon Bryant Braxton will lead the choir.

The message is one of resistance and hope on an evening when excellence will be on full display.

“I believe this production has something for everybody, even if you’re not African American. But for those who are African American, I hope they walk away with such a sense of awe and pride in themselves,” said Karissa Braxton.

Chandler Williams says you better be ready.

“This much excellence in one space, in one night. You got to see it. You can’t miss it,” he said.

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