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Black music spotlighted in June, festival set for downtown Tyler

By Coshandra Dillard

From Rock ‘n Roll and blues to jazz and R&B, black performers have influenced every musical genre and left a lasting impression on American culture. Black music has provided the soundtrack of our lives and brought awareness to some of the most pivotal eras in history.

It’s why the artistry is commemorated each year.

President Jimmy Carter proclaimed June as Black Music Month in 1979 and then President Barrack Obama renamed it African-American Music Appreciation Month in 2009.

During a proclamation, Obama said, “African-American music exemplifies the creative spirit at the heart of American identity and is among the most innovative and powerful art the world has ever known. It accompanies us in our daily lives, and it has rung out at turning points in our history and demonstrated how our achievements as a culture go hand-in-hand with our progress as a nation.”

Here in Tyler, plans are set for a celebration of black music. The Empowerment Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization of the Empowerment Ministries, Inc., will host a free, day-long festival on the downtown square June 10 to celebrate African-American Music Appreciation Month.

The main attraction is R&B duo Yarbrough and Peoples, famous for their 1981 single, “Don’t Stop The Music.”

The event also features: announcement of the winners of a baby contest, the black entrepreneur of the year and the Great Tea Cake Bake-Off contests. Milky Way Daye University, Visual Evoked Characterization and Heart For Hearts Mission will be represented at the event.

Grand Marshals are Arthur and Charlotte Graves. In addition, organizers will declare June 10 as Carl Gardner Day in Tyler. Gardner, a Tyler native, was the lead singer of The Coasters, which had hit singles such as “Yakety Yak.” Food will be provided by Brown Suga Catering.

Organizer Clarence Shackleford said he grew up loving music, as he was a member of a two-man band with friend, McKinnley R. Washington III. He said he wants the downtown festival to serve as an opportunity to honor and expand on the history of black music.

“Today the whole black music culture of the industry has changed,” Shackleford said. “It’s far less black music executives and black owned music labels like back in the day. Music labels are signing black artists who don’t know very much about black music. From my point of view, it seems that the investment in black artists is pretty much at an over all standstill, causing a systematic dismantling and what some call an ongoing cultural appropriation of the black music culture.”

10 – 11 a.m.
Main stage – Line dancing featuring Ent. Distrikt – Same Ole 2 Step and other line dance music from Dallas.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Library patio stage – Praise dance and mime teams and EOGIC Eddie McGowan from Atlanta, Georgia.

11 a.m. and noon
Main stage – Local performer Sheron Bayonne

11:15 a.m.
Main stage – Rev. Marcus Jackson and The Five Ways of Joy from East Texas.

11:45 a.m.
Main stage – J2 Joe Simalonda from Lusaka, Zambia

12:30 p.m.
Main stage – Limitless from Dallas and Las Vegas

1 p.m.
Main stage – Yarbrough and Peoples, R&B duo from Dallas.

2 p.m.
Main stage – Posthumously recognizing Carl Gardner Day in Tyler

2 p.m.
New Birth Tyler – The Great Tea Cake Bake-Off Contest, followed by the announcement of the winners of the baby contest and black entrepreneur

2:30 p.m.
Main stage – 24 SE7EN Band of East Texas

3:30 p.m.
Main Stage – Yarbrough and Peoples, American R&B duo.

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