His Funkness George Clinton
His Funkness George Clinton Credit: Sun-Times Media

Now in its 23rd year, The African Festival of the Arts has grown to become Chicago’s largest neighborhood festival. Held in Washington Park, it honors the African diaspora with four days of attractions from several continents—arts, crafts, dancing, food, music, and more. The Dee Parmer Woodtor Stage hosts the big names, and the World Music Stage presents music and dance with a special focus on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. On Friday the music begins at 5 PM; among the acts on the Woodtor Stage are local R&B singer Joan Collaso & the Eleven Divas and Charles Neville & Youssoupha Sidibe with the Mystic Rhythms, while the World Music Stage bookings include performances from Avian Hightower & Full Circle and Taylor Moore. Music starts at 2:45 PM on Saturday, with outer-space soul man George Clinton (appearing with Parliament Funkadelic), Dwele, Ray Silkman, and others on the Woodtor Stage; the World Music Stage has Taylor Mallory and a gwoka dance workshop. On Sunday music gets underway at 3 PM, with house-music veterans Terry Hunter and Mike Dunn (of the Chosen Few DJs), VaShawn Mitchell, Aleya James, and others; Senabella headlines the World Music Stage. On Monday, the festival’s final day, music starts at 2:45 PM, and Woodtor Stage entertainment wraps up with a four-way collaboration featuring heavyweights from R&B, jazz, and world music—Nona Hendryx, Kahil El’Zabar, Corey Wilkes, and Robert Irving III—after sets by Lyfe Jennings, the Southside Big Band (paying tribute to late Chicago saxophonist Von Freeman), and others. Throughout the festival these stages also host ceremonies, traditional dances, drum circles, and more; the Bernice Gardner Children & Family Pavilion, which runs from noon till early evening on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, features performances and workshops in dance, African percussion, poetry, storytelling, and spoken word.