CHICAGO, Aug. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The African Festival of the Arts (AFA) has announced a stellar line-up of entertainment led by
its Labor Day headliners Howard Hewett and Rose Royce. Hewett and Rose Royce
will take the stage Monday evening, Sept. 5th. Held each Labor Day weekend in Chicago, the Festival offers the best in entertainment
from around the world, and this year is no exception. From Sept. 2-5 in historic Washington Park, these headliners are just one element of the renowned festival
that offers a glimpse into the many unique treasures of the African Continent including African-centered offerings from across the globe.
Rose Royce ascended to the top of the Soul music world
with a string of hits and a tight, full sound that rivaled many of the best self-contained soul and funk groups of the era. Formed by trumpeter-vocalist Kenny Copeland; drummer Henry
Garner; trumpeter Freddie Dunn; and keyboardist Michael Nash in the mid 70s, the group first served as a backup band for Edwin
Starr, who introduced them to his War producer, Norman Whitfield.
With his silky smooth, straight-from-the-heart soulful style, Howard Hewett is gifted
with one of the most instantly recognizable voices in contemporary music. A writer for Rolling Stone magazine once described him as "the premier vocalist in the post-Marvin Gaye era of romantic pop." He
began his career as a pre-teen singing gospel music in Akron, Ohio with his older sisters as the lead singer of The Hewett Singers. Hewett was doing session work around LA when he got a phone call
and was offered an opportunity to join a group called Shalamar. Shalamar went on to enjoy success with hits like "Second Time Around", "Make That Move"; "A Night to Remember"; "Dead Giveaway"; and the now-classic, "This Is For the Lover in You."
songwriter, producer and session vocalist, Hewett co-wrote and produced "Frustration" for LaToya Jackson, and sang on her LP, "Heart Don't Lie." He did lead vocals on LPs by Stanley Clarke and George Duke; a duet with Stacy Lattisaw of
"A'int No Mountain High Enough," and sang with Firefox, as well as doing background on a Donna Summer release.
In 1986, Hewett launched his solo career, scoring an immediate R&B hit with "I'm For Real" (which was co-written by Stanley
Clarke, and featured such stellar musicians as George Duke and Wilton Felder of the Jazz Crusaders); followed by "Stay", "I Commit to Love" and the contemporary
gospel classic, "Say Amen. He has recorded duets with legendary leading ladies of music such as, Anita Baker, Dionne Warwick, Brenda
Russell and Stacey Lattisaw. He's collaborated with artists like George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Kenny
Loggins, Gerald Albright and the list goes on. With 16 albums recorded, countless collaborations and over 15 million records sold throughout the world, Hewett remains a viable and legendary force in
the music business. He continues to enjoy his first love, performing and entertaining for his countless fans and "Followers of the Music" domestically and worldwide.
The theme of this year's festival is Ruwadzano, which
means 'togetherness' in the East African language of Shona in Zimbabwe. During this year's event, AIH will recognize the impact togetherness has in relationships, in business, and in service to community
by recognizing those who embody the concept. This year's Grand BaBa is WGN's Robert Jordan and the Grand YeYe is Diane
Additionally, Africa International House will host a gala on August 20th at the Gabriela, 4315 S. Cottage Grove, where they will recognize the Grand
Yeye and Grand Baba. For information on tickets, call 773-955-ARTS.
Known for its themed entertainment featured on two stages each day of its four-day run, this year, Friday night will be Chicago Dance Night featuring tunes chosen
especially for Chicago steppers; Saturday night is Juju Night with Nigerian musician Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey.
He will be joined by Angel 'd Cuba and the EPA! AfroColombian Band; Sunday will feature singer/composer Dee Alexander and the
Evolution Ensemble, part of Chicago's Best Night, a line-up of area talent.
The African Festival of the Arts is one of the largest, and longest
running festivals in the Midwest focused on African art and culture, and each year draws tens of thousands of people to Washington Park. The AFA is a four-day immersion into African culture and heritage as Chicago's historic Washington
Park is transformed into an authentic African village. Over 300 vendors and artisans will present artifacts, textiles, traditional crafts, and museum-quality art. Enjoy the African-influenced
food, music, and dance traditions during an entertainment rich, family-focused celebration unlike any other in the Midwest.
The Festival boasts five distinct areas each representing a center of culture and commerce on the African Continent:
Nubia (fine arts); Kush (wearable arts); Songhay (African arts & crafts, collectibles and natural products); Timbuktu (African fabric and fashions);
and Bank of the Nile (food court).
There will be pavilions highlighting South African wines, health & wellness and fine arts. Pavilions include: Spiritual Pavilion Quilting Pavilion; David
Durojaiye Olupitan African Heritage Pavilion; Author & Book Pavilion; Drum Village; Dr. Nurudeen Olowopopo Health & Wellness Pavilion; and the Bernice Gardner Children's & Family Pavilion.
African drummer, Olu Shakoor, founder and conductor of the African Drum Village, specializes in both traditional and contemporary styles of African Drumming and excels in the Djum-Djum and Djembe
For those wanting to sample the tastes of Africa, you can dine on dishes in the tradition of Nigeria, Senegal
and the Caribbean, as well as Cajun and Southern soul. But, the real stars of the Festival are the fine arts and the artists who make them—be they painters, sculptors, jewelers, or wood
Founded by Liberian-born business leader Patrick S. K. Woodtor, the African Festival of the Arts has become a national destination point for those seeking to immerse themselves in
the African culture. Each year, tens of thousands attend the four-day event from across the U.S.
Woodtor founded the African Festival of the Arts as an outgrowth of his art shop, Windows to Africa,
and he, along with his board of directors, have grown the event into a Labor Day staple. In all these ways, the Festival gives attendees a glimpse of Africa without
the need for plane tickets and for less than the cost of applying for a passport.
Sponsors of the 2016 African Festival of the Arts include: Chicago Park District, University of Chicago Medicine,
ComEd, Next Level Health, Community Currency Exchange, Jewel/Osco, ISF Bank, the Chicago White Sox, Moneygram, and the Illinois Lottery. Media partners include: Comcast, NBCUniversal, WVON, Bronzecomm,
the Chicago Citizen and the Chicago Crusader newspapers.
Tickets are $15, in advance, and $20 at the gate. There are discounts for seniors, as well as four-day
and VIP passes. Children under five are free. Learn more by visiting www.aihusa.org and clicking on African Festival. Follow us on
all social media using the hashtag #AFAChi.