Janelle Monaé
Janelle Monaé (WI File photo)

For its 12th anniversary and its second year offering a full weekend of family-friendly outdoor music and arts, the Summer Spirit Festival will return to the greater Washington area at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, with superstars that include Babyface, Fantasia, Trombone Shorty and EU featuring the iconic Sugar Bear.

And according to the one-two punch of the concert’s promoters, Darryll Brooks and Carol Kirkendall, under the umbrella of CD Enterprises, Inc., they’re back because a cadre of devoted fans continue to support the event, eagerly awaiting a diverse lineup of performers representative of the broad spectrum of musical genres that makeup the Black musical world.

The two promoters talked about this year’s festival, the changes they’ve made and the challenges that local company’s like theirs must now confront in an ever-changing industry.

“When we decided to expand to two days last year, we knew we’d have to do even more planning while also adding popular features like VIP tickets and guaranteed meet and greets which people really seem to enjoy,” they said. “We’re also quite proud of our backstage area which serves as a meeting place not only for the artists but for local radio hosts and members of the community who help us make this one of the best festivals in the country. We’ve even included an extraordinary chef who whips up culinary delights throughout the two days which adds to the marvelous ambience behind the curtains.”

When the festival kicks off Aug. 5, continuing through Aug. 6, the lineup will feature both local favorites and nationally-acclaimed entertainers who come from the four corners of the U.S. Some have become household names while others, although equally as talented, may be newcomers for many of this year’s fans say Brooks and Kirkendall.

“We always showcase local folks and this year we’ll continue that tradition with DJ Kool and Trouble Funk featuring Big Tony who have already made it big in Europe,” the two said. “Others like Wisdom Speeks have been among our fans’ favorites for years. We also have some old school legends like De La Soul, En Vogue and SWV and a few who have enjoyed recent success like Common and Jazmine Sullivan. We embrace and present the entire circle of music that’s become the bread and butter of the Black community — something you just don’t get from any other festival in the area.”

Brooks and his business partner note that they’ve had to make some adjustments recently with the number of summer festivals in the U.S. increasing annually by leaps and bounds.

“The demand for these festivals, including making available an Afrocentric marketplace that features a lot of individual designers with goods for sale from sculptures and clothing to hats and earrings, has really increased since we first got involved. In the D.C. area we must also contend with three casinos all within a 20-mile radius who realize the potential of such events and are doing their best to attract Blacks who love neo-soul and other popular and contemporary styles of music,” they said.

Still, the dynamic duo believes it has the best hand in the DMV with a history that proves it.

“Even though the competition has changed in the last four or five years, we still know that this venue, Merriweather, the interactive approach taken by our local radio celebrities who set up shop on the grounds and most of all the music, all combine to attract more and more music lovers each year,” they added.

“We’re about love, togetherness, relationships and that always-celebrated nostalgic touch where we bring acts from the past for our go-go and hip-hop fans,” they said. “When we put on an event like Summer Spirit, it’s not just another concert — it’s an event, a homecoming, a family reunion and a rare chance for old and new friends to connect.”

Tickets remain on sale but continue to go fast. Get yours by visiting www.merriweathermusic.com, the Merriweather Post box office or www.cdepresents.com.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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