Black Arts Bash Returns to Cheekwood

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photo courtesy of Cheekwood

From morning to night, Cheekwood will celebrate Black artists with music, dance, spoken word, visual art and more on August 19. Attendees have the opportunity to explore and experience the many forms of Black musical expression and traditions, including gospel, R&B, and funk. Other offerings include a community quilt activity, story time and hands-on activities for the kids, and southern homecooked favorites made by local Black chefs available for purchase. In addition, and exhibition of art from emerging and established artists will be on view in the Frist Learning Center.

“Black Arts Bash is a celebration of black homegrown talent,” says Christiana Afotey, Advisory Committee member and owner of Threads by Dreads. “Our city has become a refuge for people from all over the world! Cheekwood offers local artists a home for their crafts, a safe space for black artists to connect and thrive, and a platform and audience to share their stories with.”

Performances

Southern Word
Massey Auditorium | 11 – 11:30 a.m.
Believed to be the largest spoken word youth development and education organization in the Southeast, Southern Word gives students a platform to share their self-composed poetry. Guests will hear from poets as they boldly express themselves through spoken word.

Sankofa African Drum and Dance
Massey Auditorium | 12 – 12:30 p.m.
The Sankofa African Drum and Dance group brings a heart-pounding interactive performance. Sankofa is a Tennessee based performing arts company whose mission is to rally communities around the beat of the drum to unify, heal and inspire.

Music 

Main Stage on Arboretum Lawn | 1 – 8 p.m.
Jovan Quallo Quintet | 1 – 1:45 p.m.
Jovan Quallo, a member of the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, the Music City Big Band, and the Tennessee Jazz Collective, will perform a diverse selection of styles and sounds by legendary Black composers, including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie.
The McCrary Sisters | 2:30 – 3:15 p.m.

Performing their unique style of gospel influenced by classic soul, Americana, blues and R&B, The McCrary Sisters bring an indescribable joy to singing. The daughters of late Rev. Samuel McCrary (a founding member of the legendary gospel quartet, The Fairfield Four), have performed with musical icons including Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes, and Stevie Wonder.

Sunny Dada & Afrokokoroot | 3:45 – 4:30 p.m.
Afrokokoroot brings a celebration of Afrobeat to Cheekwood, with their blend of driving horns, pulsing polyrhythms, and socially conscious lyrics. Afrokokoroot live performances are a full sensory experience—an incredible musical & visual immersion.
Charles “Wigg” Walker | 5:30 – 6:15 p.m.
A Nashville native, legendary soul singer Charles “Wigg” Walker is one of the few remaining original soul singers from back in the days when old school R&B/soul was brand new on the music scene. Walker cut his first record in 1959 and has been performing steadily since then.

Brassville | 7 – 8 p.m.
A local band comprised of musicians from Tennessee State University and Howard University, Brassville was formed with the intention of bringing the brass band tradition back. Cap off the evening with sophisticated brass from one of Nashville’s most exciting live acts.

Black Arts Bash Fine Art Exhibition
Frist Learning Center Great Hall
In celebrating Black art of all forms, the 2023 Black Arts Bash Fine Arts Exhibition is the visual component, featuring both emerging and established artists, and aims to tell stories from the mundane to powerful. The show provides a platform for artists as well as a mentoring opportunity. Featured artists include Higgins Bond, DaShawn Lewis, Kimberly Manson, Eric Nyamor, Shadale Smith and X Payne. A panel discussion will take place with the established artists from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. High school and University artists will be available for drop-in visits from 11:30 – 12:30 p.m. and 4 – 5 p.m.

The art exhibition opens concurrently with Black Arts Bash on August 19 and runs through August 31. For this intergenerational exhibition, Cheekwood is still seeking work (painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, fashion, etc.) made by artists in the Greater Nashville Area who identify as Black or Mix-race. Interested applicants can apply through July 29th at https://cheekwood.org/learn/school- programs/black-arts-bash-fine-art-exhibition/ .