2014 Summer Spirit Festival

2014 Summer Spirit Festival

It’s that time of year again: when the best of the hip-hop and R&B worlds join forces on the Merriweather stage to bring you Summer Spirit Festival! Each year’s lineup is always solid, but we might have outdone ourselves this year. Ms. Lauryn Hill, after making the comeback of the century with her winter tour, will headline the festival with Electric Lady Janelle Monáe. They’ll be joined by other supreme talents like Raheem DeVaughn and Talib Kweli, among many more. Grab your ticket today and ensure that your summer has a heavy dose of soul.

Erykah Badu was born on February 26, 1991 to William and Kollen Wright in Dallas, Texas. They named her Erica Abi Wright and she was the first of their three children. She inherited a taste for music from her mother who introduced her to multiple genres of music (Joni Mitchell, Parliament-Funkadelic, Pink Floyd, Phoebe Snow, Chaka Khan). At the tender age of four, Badu began singing and dancing in productions at the local Dallas Theatre Centre. It wasn’t until her acting debut in the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Center’s musical production of “Really Rosie,” directed by her godmother Gwen Hargrove, that Badu realized she was a natural performer. “I played Alligator,” Badu says, “and at 6 years old, I got my first standing ovation. I knew I wanted to bring people to their feet from that point on.”


Badu stayed true to her artistic leanings and enrolled at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in the late ’80s. Tomboyish and a bit of a class clown, Badu devoted most of her time to perfecting her dance form, studying the techniques of Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham, as well as practicing ballet, tap, and modern dance. Badu also sharpened her Hip-Hop skills, freestyling on the Dallas radio station 90.9 FM KNON under the name Apples the Alchemist until she eventually changed the spelling of her name from “Erica Wright” to “Erykah Badu,” “kah” being Kemetic (Egyptian) for a human’s vital energy or “inner-self” and “ba-du” after her favorite jazz scat-sound. But later, Badu would discover that her chosen name holds a far deeper meaning.In 1989, her senior year of high school, she decided to dedicate her life to a path of holistic wellness and became a vegetarian.


Badu enrolled at Grambling State University, where she majored in theater and minored in Quantum Physics. She left in 1993 to pursue music full-time. During the day, she taught drama and dance at the South Dallas Cultural Center and worked as a coffeehouse waitress. At night, she recorded and performed songs like “Appletree,” produced by her cousin Robert “Free” Bradford. In 1994, her 19-song demo caught the attention of aspiring record executive Kedar Massenburg by way of the SXSW music festival. Massenburg signed her to his upstart label Kedar Entertainment. The company eventually merged with Motown/Universal and Badu started opening for D’Angelo, prepping the world for the massive Neo soul movement to come.


The New York Times described Badu’s groundbreaking debut, 1997’s Baduizm, as “traditional soul vocals, staccato hip-hop rhythms and laid-back jazzy grooves.” Yet, hindsight reveals that Badu’s debut was more than just an album, it was the introduction of a new lifestyle. The music evoked speakeasies, incense, head wraps, and boho coffee shop culture all in one easy breath. Propelled by the lead single “On & On,” the album went multi-platinum, winning her two Grammys for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Album. Badu topped Rolling Stone’s Reader’s poll for Best R&B Artist, and Entertainment Weekly named her Best New Female Singer of 1997.


In 2003, she founded her non-profit group, B.L.I.N.D. (Beautiful Love Incorporated Non-Profit Development), which is geared toward creating social change through economic, artistic, and cultural development. Among B.L.I.N.D.’s many accomplishments, the organization has provided arts, crafts, and dance classes to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Also in 2004, Badu’s charitable efforts helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the scholarship fund at St. Phillips School and Community Center in Dallas, Texas.


Badu continues to use her platform as an alter. By incorporating instruments such as tuning forks, crystal singing bowls, and gem stones and more into her music, she has created a wave of healing energy throughout the planet. But her true instrument is the 'intent' with which she sings. She has become a spiritual midwife, aiding in the rebirth of moral and spiritual consciousness for her generation. Badu’s artistic and spiritual contributions to humanity earned her an honorary Doctorate degree in Humanities from Paul Quinn College in 2000.


Erykah Badu’s three children, son Seven Sirius (b. 1997) and daughters Puma (b. 2004) and Mars Merkaba (b. 2009), were all born at home with a practicing midwife. She is an advocate of natural childbirth, healthy birth outcomes and breastfeeding for robust infant development. Recently, she was the keynote speaker at the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) 7th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference in October 2010.


Erykah currently studies and apprentices to masters Queen Afua, holistic health guru and spiritual teacher. Dr. Jewel Pookrum , neurosurgeon, physicist and midwife and Dr. Laila Africa, scientist, health practitioner and theorist. In 2006 Erykah was certified as a Holistic Health practitioner thru Dr. Laila Africa and she is also a 3rd Degree Reiki Master-Teacher. Badu hasn’t stopped yet; she continues to study sound and vibration healing and presently assists and apprentices as a direct entry midwife. Erykah has served as doula for five natural births and only has 31 left to becoming a full fledge midwife.


Erykah currently makes her home in Dallas, Texas. Self described as a “mother first”, Badu is a touring artist, DJ, teacher, community activist, vegan, recycler, and conscious spirit.

With his multi-Grammy Award winning music career, continued work in film and television, and multiple written works, Common has emerged as one of Hollywood's most sought after leading men.



His numerous previous accomplishments in film and music include starring on the silver screen in films such as SMOKIN ACES, AMERICAN GANGSTER, WANTED, TERMINATOR SALVATION, DATE NIGHT and JUST WRIGHT. In 2004,... he partnered with Chicago native and rap music mega-star Kanye West to produce the album BE, which went on to garner four Grammy Award nominations. In 2007 COMMON released his critically acclaimed seventh album Finding Forever where it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart and it went on to earn a Grammy award. His eighth album, Universal Mind Control, was released in 2008 and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rap Album.



COMMON will next be seen starring alongside Ashton Kutcher, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel and Hilary Swank in New Line’s NEW YEAR’S EVE. Directed by Garry Marshall, this romantic comedy will premiere on December 9th, 2011. Also due out in 2011 is the much anticipated AMC series, “Hell on Wheels.” COMMON plays the role of “Elam,” a freed slave who comes west in post-Civil War America seeking work on the Transcontinental Railroad. COMMON has also recently finished filming the Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture fantasy film THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN alongside Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton and Ron Livingston. Next up COMMON is set to start filming alongside Danny Glover and Michael Rainey Jr. in L.U.V. as “Uncle Vincent,” a troubled ex-con who finds companionship with his shy 13-year-old nephew.



Prior to acting, COMMON rose to prominence as one of hip hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists having recorded over eight albums and garnering multiple Grammy Awards. COMMON’S highly anticipated ninth album, The Believer, The Dreamer, will be released by Warner Bros. Records in November, 2011. The first single from the album, “Ghetto Dreams” featuring Nas, was recently released. The single artwork features a rare photo of Common and Nas from a video shoot in the mid 90’s.



COMMON also offers an even younger generation a better understanding of self respect and love, by utilizing the cultural relevance of hip hop in the children’s books he has written. His first book, entitled The MIRROR and ME, teaches lessons of life, the human spirit, and human nature. His follow-up book I Like You But I Love Me was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and in 2008 he released his third book, M.E. (Mixed Emotions). COMMON will soon add to this list of accomplished written works with his revealing memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense. Every aspect of his life’s journey is unveiled in this deeply personal account of who COMMON is and the people, faith and events that have shaped and molded him into the award-winning, critically acclaimed conscious artist of today. This memoir will be on shelves beginning September 13, 2011 from Atria Books.



In addition to his music, film, and literary pursuits, COMMON has been the face, voice and inspiration behind some of the largest consumer brands in the country. COMMON was the voice of Gatorade’s G Series Sports Drink commercial that was launched during Super Bowl 2010. In 2009, he was announced as the face of the new Diesel men’s fragrance Only the Brave and he partnered with Microsoft as the inspiration and one of the designers to launch their Softwear clothing t-shirt line.



COMMON is a regularly requested guest speaker known to motivate and empower collegiate minds while speaking at prestigious universities across the country. In 2000, he launched the Common Ground Foundation, whose mission is dedicated to the empowerment and development of disadvantaged youth in urban communities by mentoring in three areas: character development, creative expression and healthy living.



Whether inspiring audiences through music, movies, television, books or his foundation, COMMON continues to break new ground, and remains to be one of hip-hop’s most innovative, positive voices.

Chuck Brown Tribute - Chuck Brown’s Band (including KK and D Floyd)

The life, music and legacy of the late Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, will be celebrated in one-of-a-kind fashion on SATURDAY, AUGUST 4TH at the SUMMER SPIRIT FESTIVAL. The presence of Chuck Brown, who has been a signature fixture at the Spirit Festival in past years, will be felt when his very own Chuck Brown Band, along with other iconic Go-Go celebrities, including André “White Boy” Johnson, Sugar Bear, Big Tony and James Funk, take the stage and present a unique tribute. In addition to an all-star lineup and musical performances, the Go-Go Throwdown celebrating Chuck Brown will feature a video tribute that can only be seen at the Summer Spirit Festival!

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have come a long way since their humble beginnings nearly a decade ago. On April 6th, 2010, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings marked history with the release of their fourth album, I Learned The Hard Way. After selling a mere 100,000 copies of their previous album, 100 Days, 100 Nights, since its release in 2007, the band went on to move 23,000 copies of I Learned The Har...d Way in the first week putting the album at #15 on the Billboard 200. And, after a few weeks on the shelves of record stores around the world, the album continues to climb the Billboard charts hitting at #2 for Independent albums and #6 for R&B/Hip-Hop albums. However, sales didn’t stop there. I Learned The Hard Way went on to move 100,000 copies in the first four months after its release date. Steeped in the gilded and gritty sounds of gospel, soul, and funk, this nine-piece act continues to electrify fans, disc jockeys, critics, record collectors, and bloggers the world over with their heart-felt sound. Their devotion to soul music is clearly demonstrated on the band’s four critically acclaimed albums Dap Dippin (2002), Naturally (2005), 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007), and their newest release I Learned the Hard Way, all captured and released by the independent Daptone Records, in Brooklyn, NY. Their albums recall an analog era led by iconic studios like those at Motown and Stax Records and have thrust the fifty-five year old Augusta, GA native and crew into the multimedia limelight.



Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have appeared on The Colbert Report, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Lopez Tonight, The Mo’nique Show, CBS News, NPR, CNN, VH1, BBC Television, MTV, and many more, as well as a slew of print publications, including feature stories in New York Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine and Arts Section, Mojo, USA Today, The New York Post, Veja, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Associated Press, and Entertainment Weekly.



As distinguished as their recordings may be, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have become truly renowned thanks to their incredible live show and relentless touring. Although it’s no easy task to keep such a vast ensemble on the road, the band continues to pack hundreds of clubs worldwide, including two consecutive sold out shows last year at New York’s legendary Apollo Theatre, a historical evening at Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park Band Shell that brought a reported crowd of nearly 20,000 people and show-stopping sets at SXSW, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Roskilde, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, North Sea Jazz Festival, and WOMAD. Most recently, the band has been invited by fellow soul enthusiast, Prince, to open for him at his shows in New York City, Paris, and Ghent. At each show, Ms. Jones and the Dap-Kings have been asked to join Prince on stage for collaborations during his set.



But, besides the adoration they receive from fans across the globe, they’ve also grabbed the ears of a diverse range of producers, musicians, and Hollywood execs, leading to a number of exciting collaborative projects with many different artists. Ms. Jones celebrated her silver screen debut in the Denzel Washington film, The Great Debaters, in which she was called upon to act, sing, and record the majority of the film’s soundtrack; the band’s version of Shuggie Otis’s “Inspiration Information” was a favorite on the celebrated Dark Was The Night benefit album; and their cover of “This Land Is Your Land” was prominently featured in the Golden Globe and Oscar winning Up in the Air. In addition, Ms. Jones has hit the studio and stage with the likes of David Byrne (including his recent release, Here Lies Love), They Might Be Giants, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, and most recently appeared on Saturday Night Live to perform her duet “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” with Michael Bublé. Not to be outdone, the Dap-Kings’ musical chops have also been in high demand. Legendary soul icon Al Green tapped their services for his Grammy winning Blue Note release, Lay It Down;Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee used them for the soundtrack to the feature film American Gangster; and Mark Ronson utilized them for much of Amy Winehouse’s Grammy winning Back to Black. (One of those Grammy Awards went to Daptone’s Gabriel Roth for his engineering work.)



I Learned The Hard Way was produced by Bosco Mann and recorded in its entirety on an old Ampex eight-track tape machine at Daptone Records’ “House of Soul Studios.” The record drips with warmth and spontaneity rarely found since the golden days of Muscle Shoals and Stax Records. Ms. Jones’s voice, never stronger, evokes at once the raw power of Tina Turner, the moaning soulfulness of Mavis Staples, the rhythmic swagger of James Brown, and the melodic command of Aretha Franklin. From the lush Philly-soul fanfare that ushers in the top of the album with “The Game Gets Old,” to the stripped down Sam Cooke style that closes it with “Mama Don’t Like My Man,” the band dances seamlessly through the most simple, crafted arrangements with subtlety and discipline. This is the “Daptone Sound” at its finest and is a welcome breath of fresh air. But, most of all, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are a celebration of, and a testament to, the soulful and beautiful possibilities of music.

She may be a born-and-raised West London girl, but we’d venture that Estelle Swaray is right at home in the energy of New York, her newly adopted city. The Homeschool/Atlantic recording artist has announced early details of her massively anticipated new album. “ALL OF ME” – which follows the Grammy Award-winning singer’s 2008 US debut, “SHINE”. The new album is heralded by two critically acclaimed singles, “Fall In Love (Feat. Nas),” and “Break My Heart (Feat. Rick Ross),” which are both available now at the British hip-hop/soul sensation’s own official website, www.estellemusic.com.


“SHINE” – which marked the premiere release from Grammy Award-winner John Legend’s Homeschool Records label, in partnership with Atlantic Records – was without question one of 2008’s most compelling releases. Executive Produced by Legend and Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman, the album proved Estelle’s global breakthrough, fuelled in part by the phenomenal hit single, “American Boy (Feat. Kanye West).”


In addition to hitting #1 in the UK, “American Boy” topped the European Airplay Chart, along with airplay charts in the UK, France, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, and Ireland. In the US, “American Boy” has been certified 2x-platinum by the RIAA for digital sales exceeding 2 million. And in 2009, the track earned Estelle her first-ever Grammy Award, among many other prestigious honors.

Singer, songwriter, and producer Eric Roberson (affectionately known as “Erro” by friends and fans) continues to break boundaries in an industry predominantly influenced by major record labels, manufactured sounds, and mainstream radio. His countless achievements as an independent artist has established him as a leader in which he has been able to reach levels of great success once never imaginable by an unsigned artist. Eric has truly created a path of success of his own to follow.



An outstanding storyteller, Eric’s music is relatable, allowing him to form personal connections with each of his listeners. His music is influenced by elements of music styles varying from Soul, Rhythm & Blues, House, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Rock and more, inhibiting him from being confined or limited to any one genre of music. His music is personal, poetic, positive and progressive. It is classic music presented in an untraditional fashion. All of these factors, paired with a humble, inspiring, and inviting spirit, has earned Eric the love and respect of each of his fans one by one, cultivating a fan base that has shown an unbelievable level of support throughout the years.



Eric Roberson began his career as a performing artist by singing in church and acting in his high school productions. In 1990, he won a scholarship to Howard University in Washington, DC where he graduated with a degree in Music Theatre. While a attending Howard, Eric was signed to Warner Brothers and released his first single “The Moon” in 1994 which charted on Billboards Top 100 R&B/Hip Hop Chart. Eric later entered into a songwriting deal with EMI Publishing where he would write for and work with a number of notable artists including DJ Jazzy Jeff, Osulande, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Carl Thomas, Vivian Green, 112, Will Smith and countless others. Although being a songwriter for other artists was (and continues) to be one of Eric’s passions, he still had aspirations to share his personal message with the world, a message that only he could deliver. After experiencing the ups and downs of being signed to a major label, and with the help of two supportive and loving parents, Eric began performing and selling his own music. In 2001, he established his record label B.L.U.E. Erro Soul where he released his first independent project The Esoteric Movement. Subsequently, Eric has gone on to release 7 other independent projects on his label: The Vault 1.0, The Vault Vol. 1.5, TheAppetizer, Erro Live: Vol. DC, Left, and Music Fan First, and his latest project Mr. Nice Guy? (2011). What once began as a hobby has now become an affluent business which has gone on to sell over 80,000 CD’s independently, thousands of digital downloads, and allowed Eric to tour all over, nationally and internationally, and in front of crowds of up to thousands.



“Erro” has earned the great respect and admiration of his peers and fans. Recognized for his undeniable talents, he became the first independent artist to be nominated for a BET Award in 2007 and was the recipient of the Underground Artist of the Year BETJ Virtual Award with Rahsaan Patterson in 2008. Released in late summer 2009, his album Music Fan First debuted in the top 10 on the ITunes R&B/Soul Charts. The album went on to entering into the top 100 Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for the song “Borrow You”, the Top 100 R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for the album itself. In both 2010 and 2011, Eric Roberson received Grammy Award nominations in the category of Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the songs “A Tale of Two” and “Still” respectively, an amazing accomplishment for an independent artist.



Eric has gained a reputation for delivering dynamic live performances, which continues to spread all over the world. His ability entertain by bringing life to his songs on stage and creating songs on the spot using words provided by the crowd (freestyle) has been known to convert strangers to family, and turn those who have lost faith in the authenticity of music into believers again.



Eric Roberson continues to blaze through the industry under his own terms and in his own unique fashion always keeping one step ahead. His name continues to become as well known as some of his major mainstream counterparts as he bridges the gap between the majors and independent music. His originality, electric live performances, impressive freestyles, genuine humility, and his ability to connect with people through his music, has earned him the respect, appreciation, strong following and the support of fans all over the world.

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2014 Summer Spirit Festival with Erykah Badu, Common, Chuck Brown Tribute - Chuck Brown’s Band (including KK and D Floyd), Sharon J...

Saturday, August 4 · 3:00 PM at Merriweather Post Pavilion