Live Concert Photography: BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at The Prospect Park Bandshell 7/19/19: Burna Boy with Sampa The Great
Although it’s gone through a number of different names throughout it’s 41 year history, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is one of the longest run, summer outdoor concert and performance series in New York. And from its first shows, the festival’s long-held mission has been to bring Brooklyn residents — and those who love and enjoy all things Brooklyn — together in a safe, harmonious setting to enjoy and celebrate the vibrant cultures that has made Brooklyn, one of the most most diverse places in the world; in fact, as the organizers have strongly emphasized, “We believe it is especially important to use artistic platforms to reaffirm the very basis of what Brooklyn and America is — a welcoming, supercollider of ideas and cultures, informing and enriching each other. ”
Unsurprising throughout is history as the host site of the festival, the Prospect Park Bandshell has hosted an eclectic list of established and emerging artists across a large and adventurous array of styles and genres, including Americana, African Diaspora music, world music, classical music, jazz, pop, alt-rock, indie rock, hip-hop, soul, R&B and a long list of others. And as a result, the bandshell has had an impressive array of artists play on its stage including, Dr. John, Maceo Parker, They Might Be Giants, The Neville Brothers, Talib Kweli, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Beck, Hugh Maskela, Joan Armatrading, Willie Nelson, Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo, Seun Kuti, Mavis Staples, Marco Benevento, Bilal, Lisa Loeb, Poliça, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Alice Smith, Brooklyn Raga Massive, The Soul Rebels, Orkesta Mendoza, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Eric Krasno, Yossou N’Dour, Amadou and Mariam, Brandi Carlile, Ruthie Foster, the acclaimed Canadian jazz act BADBADNOTGOOD the up-and-coming Canadian singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay Charlotte Day Wilson and recently, Afro-Cuban electro pop sibling duo and JOVM mainstays Ibeyi, and the iconic R&B and soul legend Patti LaBelle.
With the release of 2013’s Leriq-produced full-length debut L.I.F.E., which featured attention-grabbing singles like “Like to Party,” “Tonight”, “Always Love You”, “Run My Race” and “Yawa Dey,” Burna Boy, a Nigerian Afro-fusion singer/songwriter, born Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu exploded into the international scene for a sound that routinely (and effortlessly) meshes elements of dancehall, Afrobeat, R&B and hip-hop and essentially drew from the work of Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade and Bob Marley. While the album received generally positive reviews, it was a commercial success selling over 400,000 copies on the first day of its release, which lead to its Best Album of the Year nomination at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards — and the album peaked at #7 on the Billboard Reggae Album Charts.
After leaving from his first label home Aristokrat Records, the Nigerian Afro-fusion artist started his own label Spaceship Entertainment, which released his sophomore album 2015’s On a Spaceship and the Redemption EP, an effort that featured “Pree Me.” Building upon a growing national and international profile, Burna Boy signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records here in the US and Warner Group internationally. But last year may have been a breakthrough year for him: he was featured on “Sunshine Riptide,” a track off Fall Out Boy‘s Grammy-nominated seventh album MANIA and he released his third full-length album, Outside.
Described by Burna Boy as a mixtape the effort mostly consists of Afrobeat, dancehall, reggae and road rap, featured guest spots from J. Hus, Lily Allen and Mabel and six singles “Rock Your Body”, “Streets of Africa”, “Koni Baje,” “Sekkle Down“, “Heaven’s Gate” and “Ye.” Interestingly, the album was his most critically and commercially successful to date — Pulse Nigeria and Nigerian Entertainment Today named the album the best Nigerian album of the year. It was nominated for and won Album of the Year at that year’s Nigeria Entertainment Awards with “Ye” landing on the top of most Nigerian publication’s year-end lists for biggest single of the year. Additionally, the album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart.
So far, the Nigerian Afro fusion artist has continued on the momentum of last year. Earlier this year, he released a four track collaborative EP with Los Angeles-based electronic do DJDS, Steel & Copper. He won four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival, including African Artiste of the Year, Listener’s Choice and Best Male MVP. He also played at this year’s Coachella Festival. He released his fourth full-length album African Giant a week after his headlining BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival set, and the album which features singles “Gbona”, “On the Low”, Killin Dem”, “Dangote” and “Anybody,” as well as a cover of Angelique Kidjo’s “We We” is purportedly Burna Boy’s most personal effort to date.
Interestingly, his stop at the Prospect Park bandshell further cemented his reputation for wildly energetic live shows — while revealing an artist, who’s on the brink of international stardom. Opening the night was the Zambia-born, Sydney, Australia-based singer/songwriter, poet, emcee and visual artist Sampa The Great. Check out photos from the show below.
Born in Zambia, raised in Botswana and based in Sydney Australia, Sampa Tembo, best known as Sampa The Great is a wildly talented artist; she’s a poet, visual artist, emcee, singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has publicly cited the likes of Mos Def, Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Nneka as major influences on her and her work. After collaborating with the likes of Wallace and acclaimed JOVM mainstay act REMI, the Zambian-born, Australia-based artist quickly built up a following and profile, eventually opening for Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ibeyi, Little Simz and Fat Freddy’s Drop — and she played sets at Golden Plains, Sugar Mountain, Laneway, WOMAD and Vivid LIVE. 2017 saw the release of her Rakhi-produced HERoes Act 2. Released through Red Bull Sound Select, the effort found her collaborating with Estelle on an effort that brought greater attention to her ridiculously dexterous flow that draws from spoken word performances, the blues and old school, hip-hop lyricism, with complex inner rhyme and multisyllabic rhyme schemes — all while being defiantly and boldly pro Black and feminist.
For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmFB5P8J