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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

2018 BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech

Ranky Tank. Photo courtesy the artists.
By Danny Kapilian

Way back on June 15, 1995, the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech opened with the great Percy Sledge:

“When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found”

Those universal words of love are where our journey began—and now, 240 live performances later, the BAM R&B Festival has sustained that musical message of love with the same deep soul throughout.


R&B is a descriptive term that covers the entirety of the black-American musical experience that we present—a direct line from Louis Armstrong to Kendrick Lamar. The BAM R&B Festival features virtually every facet of that long musical road.

Here are some of the amazing artists who have presented their distinct talents and varying styles on our stage over the past 24 years:

  • The Cadillacs, The Manhattans, The Coasters (doo-wop) 
  • Ronnie Spector, The Shangri-Las, Martha and the Vandellas (early girl groups) 
  • Bobby Blue Bland, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Sam Moore (classic 60s soul) 
  • Ruth Brown, Lavern Baker (1950s divas) 
  • The Stylistics, The Delfonics, The Main Ingredient (70s vocal harmony groups) 
  • Bo Diddley, Booker T and the MGs, Los Lobos (rock legends) 
  • The Staple Singers, Erica Campbell (crossover gospel stars) 
  • Little Anthony and the Imperials, War (hit machines spanning generations) 
  • Dr. John, Irma Thomas, The Meters, The Neville Brothers (New Orleans) 
  • Fontella Bass, Darlene Love, Jennifer Holiday, Sharon Jones (fabulous divas) 
  • Maceo Parker, P-Funk, the Brothers Johnson, the Ohio Players (funk pioneers) 
  • Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals (reggae stars) 
  • Eddie Palmieri, Septeto Santiaguero, La India (latin jazz) 
  • Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita, King Sunny Adé, Amadou and Mariam (African stars) 
  • Floetry, Al B. Sure, Jose James, Robert Glasper (hip-hop/jazz) 
  • Ashford and Simpson, Allen Toussaint, William Bell (songwriting legends) 
  • Odetta, Richie Havens, Phoebe Snow (folk) 
  • Roy Hargrove, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Snarky Puppy, Lizz Wright (new jazz) 
  • John Hammond, Robert Cray (blues) 
  • Tank and the Bangas, Aloe Blacc, Sinkane, Andra Day (new soul stars)

Quiana Lynell. Photo: Colligans
Pretty fantastic, right?

When I begin the process of laying out who the artists will be for a coming season, sometimes a combination of good luck and timing works out and we get the lineup I was going after. It’s a different dynamic story arc each year. Frequently the availability of great performers is a moving target, but good creative work and good fortune eventually combine to deliver a great lineup that takes us to unexpected places. This is one of those adventurous years where we are stepping into some thrilling new musical territory.

Four of our star artists this summer live where R&B and jazz combine to create something totally new. Legendary tap dancing star Savion Glover presents a duo performance with the brilliant young jazz drummer Marcus Gilmore (Herbie Hancock, Nicholas Payton). Terri Lyne Carrington is a three-time Grammy-winning drummer who’s bridged the music of Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding, and Valerie Simpson. Terence Blanchard is a Grammy-winning trumpeter, and has scored many films by Spike Lee. Marcus Miller is a legendary virtuoso multi-instrumentalist who has performed and recorded with Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, and many other greats.

We’ll open on June 7th celebrating Bernard Purdie (aka “Pretty Purdie”). The most recorded drummer in pop history created the Purdie Shuffle—a distinct beat featured on hundreds of top-selling hits from the 1960s to today. You’ve heard him on classic recordings with Aretha Franklin (musical director from 1970—75), and Steely Dan (“Home At Last”, “Babylon Sisters”). The acclaimed new singer Quiana Lynell will perform songs from throughout Purdie’s amazing career, with a set and guest appearance by Grammy-winning jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey—both accompanied by Purdie’s tremendous supporting band.

The rest of the summer has Vivian Green bringing her great contemporary soul hits, PJ Morton delivering his original pop-R&B from New Orleans, and new artists Delgres, Ranky Tanky, and Jupiter & Okwess presenting their distinct new styles from France, South Carolina, and Congo, respectively.

It’s so rewarding to bring these artists every year to perform in Downtown Brooklyn. We’ll be at MetroTech Plaza every Thursday at 12 noon from June 7 through August 9. Like the song says, “everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth.”

Join us at the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech this summer every Thursday from Jun 7—Aug 9.

Danny Kapilian is the producer of BAM R&B at MetroTech.

© 2018 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

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