African Festival Performers Weather the Storm

On September 7, 2018, in Red Hot Radio, by Wide View Publishing
Photo Credit: Yakira Levi

Keisha Cole



While other parts of the Chicagoland area suffered tornado watches, thunderstorms, and flash flood problems – Africa International House USA, Inc. and die-hard African Festival of the Arts, fans occupied Washington Park on Chicago’s South Side. Despite heavy rains this past Labor Day weekend, most festival goers, vendors, and musicians were determined enough to come out and celebrate the 29th Annual African Festival of the Arts. The four-day outdoor festival of art and culture presented an exhibition of talented vendors creating an African marketplace for food, artifacts and of course – music. An array of performers graced the Dee Palmer Stage. Every Star’s performance was stellar, and overcoming each barrier made the experience even more memorable.


“Steppin’ Under the Stars” with Ken Bedford was designed for the laid-back crowd to enjoy on Friday night. Saturday night the party was turned up a bit when Twista and Shawnna performed. Twista got the audience all tied up in his lyrics. Once known for holding the Guinness world record for being the fastest rapper in the early 1990’s. He was made famous by songs like “Po Pimp” with Do or Die, “Slow Jamz” with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, and currently promoting his new album Dark Horse. Shawnna, steamed up the stage with her performance and appearance. Well known for hits like “Stand Up” with Ludacris and “Gettin Some”. The daughter of Blues Legend Buddy Guy started her entertainment career as 1/2 of the Chicago female rap group Infamous Syndicate. After Twista and Shawnna wrapped up their routine, Keyshia Cole closed out the night with some melodic R&B.


Photo Credit: Yakira Levi

King Rudy


When asked what he thought about Keyshia Cole’s performance, Emawnuayl Gray exclaimed “Sexy! Keyshia Cole was sexy, hot and fashionable with one side of her shirt untucked. She got down.” Said Emawnuayl. “She had some technical difficulties, but the homegirl kept it going. Her band was good.” I went backstage during the show to find out the exact origin of the technical difficulty and learned that there was a problem with the band’s Pro Tools rig. [The Pro Tools session in question may have contained additional backing tracks, samples, etc.] It was obvious that Ms. Cole was not happy about the glitch, but she and her band played on. “Don’t you hate it when the devil wins in some situations?” said Keyshia Cole. Even when your family turns on you, you have to keep going. That was the message that Keyshia Cole left us with. In my opinion, she looked and sounded flawless!


Seun Kuti, son of the late African musician and activist Fela Kuti, and his Egypt 80 Band was scheduled to perform at the African Festival of the Arts on Sunday night. King Rudy [Paul Okoye] 1/2 of P-Square performed in their place instead. This particular face of adversity twist brought a special gift for me because I love P-Square! P-Square is a Nigerian musical Duo of twin brothers Paul and Peter Okoye. King Rudy stated that his brother could not make it, due to passport or visa issues, but he and his background dancers put on a fiery show that highlighted his solo music and hit songs from the Duo. Amongst other crowd favorites, King Rudy sang my favorite P-Square song “Shekini”. I jumped all over the place singing the lyrics of the chorus and the first two English verses before he stopped the music and moved on to the next song. None the less, King Rudy gave an excellent show. He honored his brother, the elders and his country as well.


Photo Credit: Yakira Levi



When asked about Monday night’s show Daveda Flute responded, “Angela Winbush? Off the chain! The voice was wonderful – great performance. Sounded like she should have been the headliner. I was very, very impressed.” Ms. Flute said. “She was a trooper. She sang in the rain. She gave the people what they deserved. Energetic! Oh my God!” Said Daveda Flute. Angela Winbush announced that she was 63 and a cancer survivor. She danced and sang and looked so beautiful on stage that women in the audience were overheard talking about getting back in the gym. She sang like an angel; and showed kindness by using her towel to wipe the rain from a fan’s head. “Shaggy brought a taste of the Island to the south side of Chicago.” Said Daveda Flute, “His hype man held his own. Shaggy has one of the best hype men in the business.” She said. Shaggy looked stunning, he sounded amazing, and his band, lighting, and video graphics elevated his performance to the perfect show. Shaggy closed out the festival on a high note.


Scattered showers, obstacles, adversity put to rest. Even facing challenges – the spirit of the 29th African Festival of the Arts was not dampened one bit. With honor and thanks, we salute Mr. Patrick Woodtor and the Africa International House Board for “serving as a center that exposes and educates all peoples to the individual works and collective contributions of African cultures.” Thank you for your contributions thus far, and for your efforts to annually present the African Festival of the Arts.


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