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African Fest Is Back This Weekend As A Virtual Party

Syleena Johnson and Case will headline this year's fest, which is going virtual for the first time in 31 years.

Shoppers inspect a blanket from Baba Blankets at the 2019 African Fest. This year, the festival is going virtual.
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WASHINGTON PARK — Like most of the city’s summer festivals canceled because of coronavirus, The African Festival Of The Arts is taking its party online.

The festival — which draws artists, vendors and visitors from across the globe — will broadcast live performances online Saturday and Sunday from several artists, including Syleena Johnson, Case, The Stars of Heaven and The Victory Travelers Quartet Gospel Group.

All performances will be streamed via Facebook Live and the festival’s website. R&B, Jazz, and Blues artists will take the virtual stage at 4 p.m. Saturday, with Gospel and inspirational artists showcased at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Kim Delaney, who serves on the festival board, said the leadership team was inspired to take the fest virtual by DJ D-Nice, who has hosted massively popular dance parties on Instagram Live.

“I was going to D-Nice’s Instagram Live parties and thought, ‘We could do this. We could still try to give the people something so that we could still have our annual celebration,'” Delaney said. “We were holding out hope that something would happen, but once we realized that the pandemic wasn’t going anywhere, we had to figure out something.”

One benefit of going virtual this year is festival organizers were able to draw more performers from the motherland. Musical artists from Ghana, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo are able to participate without worry of visas and passports, which has complicated things in past years.

People are encouraged to register for free in advance here.

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