April 5, 2023, BROOKLYN, NY – Today, the internationally-renowned Brooklyn-based arts and media institution BRIC announces the opening and closing acts for the 2023 BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! season. The highly-anticipated performing arts series will kick off with legendary blues musician Taj Mahal, British singer songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, and dynamic gospel trio The Harlem Gospel Travelers at the Lena Horne Bandshell at Prospect Park. Seattle-based folk-indie favorites The Head and The Heart will close out the festival season. BRIC will announce the full season lineup in early May.
This year marks the 45th Anniversary year of BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! In partnership with Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! has become one of the hottest summer performing arts series, a beloved tradition and an opportunity to catch global music icons, chart-topping artists, and the very best diverse talent from around the world and around the block. In addition to free concerts, the festival includes movie and dance nights, a family day, and special benefit concerts.
In celebration of its 45th year, and under the guidance of BRIC President Wes Jackson and Artistic Director and Executive Producer Diane Eber, the 2023 BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! season theme is “looking to the future, while honoring the past.”
“I’m so proud to present this season in our 45th year with our first-ever artist curator L’Rain,” said Diane Eber, Artistic Director and Executive Producer. “As we come back to a summer full of shows, this year is all about looking to the future of our beloved festival while honoring our rich past. Many of the artists playing the Bandshell stage this summer, like Taj Mahal, have been a part of the festival in years past — and we’re beyond honored to welcome them back.”
In the spirit of looking to the future, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, aka L’Rain, joins BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! as the first-ever artist curator. Born and raised in Crown Heights, she has extensive experience participating in and uplifting Brooklyn’s experimental music communities, including performing at BRIC JazzFest 2021. Cheek has curated at some of the most prestigious art institutions in New York City including MoMA PS1’s annual Warm Up music series; and has collaborated with artists at Creative Time, The High Line, and Weeksville Heritage Center.
“I have been going to BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! my whole life and having an opportunity to be a part of the team is nothing short of a dream come true,” said Artist Curator L’Rain. “Collaborative curatorial work is so special—more important than any individual contribution are the conversations we have with each other about artists we’re excited about, the ways we push each other out of our comfort zones, and the new music we learn about along the way.”
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! is a festival that represents the borough’s growing reputation as a global cultural destination.
“BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park is a beloved flagship event, and a clear sign of summer for our community,” said Morgan Monaco, President of Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that operates the park in partnership with the City. “Music and performing arts are what help keep us thriving in good times and in bad, and I’m grateful that the park serves as an important inspiration for artists of all kinds. The festival has brought a wide range of free music, performances and family programming to Brooklyn’s Backyard and we look forward to coming together this season with the many diverse communities of Brooklyn.”
“Every year, New Yorkers across the five boroughs flock to BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! to appreciate great music, enjoy free programming, and take in Brooklyn’s incredible culture,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This event imbues Prospect Park—already an iconic destination—with even more life and joy, and I’m grateful to BRIC and the Prospect Park Alliance for their fantastic partnership year after year.”
“BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! captures so much of what makes our city great – community building, creativity, beautiful public spaces, and joy, joy, joy!” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “Congratulations to BRIC and the artists who will be featured in this year’s exciting festival lineup. I can’t wait to see you all at the Lena Horne Bandshell come summer!”
The season will kick off on Wednesday, June 7th, with three-time past headliner and Grammy-award winning legendary Blues artist Taj Mahal. The Harlem native, who began performing alongside acts like Otis Redding and the Temptations in the 1960s, is praised for honoring traditional Blues while expanding the genre’s very limits, bringing in global influences, as well as influencing icons like Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. Two-time Grammy Award winner Corinne Bailey Rae will open the show, her first time performing in the festival’s history. Opening night will also feature The Harlem Gospel Travelers, whose sound draws deeply on gospel quartet traditions of the 50s and 60s with a distinctly modern edge. The trio grew from music education group Gospel for Teens, which played BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! twice over the years.
Known for their electric live performances alongside other indie icons like Vampire Weekend, Dr. Dog, Iron and Wine, My Morning Jacket and Death Cab for Cutie, The Head and The Heart will be the festival’s closing headliner. The acclaimed band released their fifth studio album, Every Shade of Blue in 2022 and headlined sold-out shows all over North America. They return to BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! following a show-stopping performance in 2012.
BRIC is also rolling out their BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! ticketed benefit concerts, which help support BRIC’s extensive free programming. As an extension of the Blue Note Jazz Festival, the ticketed concert on June 24th will feature headlining performances from NxWorries, the art-duo composed of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge, who haven’t performed in the states as NxWorries in nearly five years; alongside legends like Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway, Bilal, and BJ The Chicago Kid. August’s 10th’s benefit show will feature New Orleans-based eight-piece rock collective The Revivalists, and Seattle indie-favorites Band of Horses. The last two benefit shows will take place on August 22nd and 23rd, featuring lo-fi multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Alex G, with support from Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays, fresh off the release of their third full-length album, Blue Rev.
The rest of the festival lineup will be announced soon. Past BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! artists have included Common, Patti Labelle, The Roots, Wizkid, D-Nice with special guests, Ari Lennox, J.Cole, Skip Marley, David Byrne, Jimmy Cliff, Chaka Khan, Bomba Estereo, Janelle Monae, Philip Glass, St Vincent, Lila Downs, Youssou N’Dour, Sonic Youth, The Violent Femmes, and many more!
Regularly attracting upwards of 250,000 attendees, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! is the longest-running, free summer music festival in New York City and has become one of the city’s foremost summer attractions and a true staple of Brooklyn culture. From its very first performance in the summer of 1979, the mission of the festival has been to bring Brooklyn together.
While the festival will remain free of charge, excluding benefit shows, RSVPs are encouraged to stay up to date on festival news, but are not required. Media applications for BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! will open soon, with the full lineup announcement.
Stay tuned for additional details on the 2023 season as they’re announced! For more information on the artist lineup, tickets and more, visit bricartsmedia.org/bcb.
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