Baltimore’s AFRAM Festival, a celebration of the city’s African-American culture, art and life now going on 42 years, will feature “Boo’d Up” singer Ella Mai, local legends Dru Hill, Atlanta R&B crooner Jacquees and gospel singer VaShawn Mitchell, the city announced today. And it will be two days, rather than one, as first reported by The Sun on Friday.
The festival will run Aug. 11-12 at Druid Hill Park, with Mai and Jacquees headlining Saturday and Mitchell and Dru Hill performing Sunday. Other artists are expected to be announced soon, per the AFRAM website.
Last year’s festival was condensed into one day, to the chagrin of many. Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration had said the downsized format last summer was meant to defray costs to the city, which spokespeople said had risen in recent years. The event ended up drawing only 3,000 to 4,000 people, outlets reported.
Tonya Miller, Pugh’s senior director of public affairs, told Baltimore Fishbowl Monday that Pugh’s administration opted to revert to the two-day format because “it made sense from a historical point of view.”
“It’s always been a weekend-long event,” she said.
Stakeholders had also called for the two-day layout to be restored, Miller noted. “It’s what the community wanted. I think the mayor heard that, so she moved forward with that decision.”
The city plans to stick with another big change from last year, hosting the festival at Druid Hill Park rather than the lot between M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where it had been taking place for years.
Miller said Druid Hill Park still offered a suitable outdoor venue for this year’s festival. “Druid Hill Park is a beautiful park.”
Unlike with other festivals such as Artscape and Light City that are organized by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, AFRAM is put on entirely by the mayor’s office.
The festival’s website is still looking pretty sparse, but more information should be announced as the 42nd rendition approaches. Miller said organizers will soon be announcing other local musical talent, and maybe “an additional national act.”
AFRAM is still seeking sponsors, she noted.
This story has been updated. It has also been corrected to reflect that BOPA does not organize Pride. We regret the error.