Artz, Rootz, & Rhythm at Riverside

Artz, Rootz, & Rhythm at the Riverside Theatre

By jaewatkins

The 12th annual New York Family Arts Festival presented by the Riverside Theatre (91 Claremont Ave @120th St), hosted an ARTZ, ROOTZ, & RHYTHM event in partnership with the Harlem Arts Alliance to showcase some amazing local talent on Friday, June 11th.  The theme for this year’s Family Arts Festival is From Legacy to Promise and this event in particular highlighted this theme by demonstrating a “lift as we climb” message throughout the event and by including both seasoned performing artists and young up-and-coming artists.

The first performance was a series of dances by a group from the Uptown Dance Academy. This dance troupe was made up of 6-7 dancers who all appeared to be below the age of 16.  Their performances included a graceful and stylistic praise dance piece (an award-winner at the 2009 McDonald’s Gospelfest) as well as a great tribute to the late great Michael Jackson.  Another young performer that has been making his way around Harlem for some time now is Solomon Hicks, a young 15-year-old vocalist and guitar player.  He and his trio performed three great numbers including a pretty stylistic version of the great Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll.  If you haven’t seen him perform yet, you have some catching up to do!  Fortunately, you can catch him live on Monday nights at the Cotton Club.

The final performance was from the New Amsterdam Musical Association (NAMA), an organization founded in 1904 by black musicians who were denied admission to the whites only local union that (106 years later!) continues to work with local musicians.  NAMA’s ensemble really showcased various types of jazz by featuring several different artists with very distinct styles.  The spotlight seemed to continually shine on trumpeter Shanelle Jenkins whose range and technique really stole the show (click for a quick clip of her in this video highlighting NAMA’s work)!

This was definitely a family-friendly event as there were representatives of all age groups in the audience.  The Family Arts Festival will continue throughout the month of June, for a complete listing please visit the Riverside Theatre.

The Harlem Arts Alliance in partnership with New York City Parks Department will also present future ARTZ, ROOTZ, & RHYTHMevents at Jackie Robinson Park on Saturday, June 19th and Saturday, July 17th, for more details, click here.