Rachelle Farrell, Fertile Ground, Lady of Rage at African Festival of The Arts

If you're in Chicago this Labor Day weekend, don't miss the African Festival of the Arts. Now the largest of all annual neighborhood summer festivals in Chicagoland, this year's African Festival boasts a music and concert lineup that's jam packed with top-shelf entertainment. The cultural arts, entertainment and ethnic cuisine action starts on Friday, August 29 and continues thru Monday, September 1, 2008.

First and foremost will be the impeccable vocal and piano phenomenon Rachelle Farrell. If you're a fan of Rachelle and have never seen her live, do not miss her concert at the African Festival. Rachelle Farrell hits the Dee Parmer stage on Sunday, August 31 at 7:45 p.m.

Rachelle's music style defies true genre labeling. I first learned of this brilliant musician back in Philadelphia, the area she's originally from. In her early days, Rachelle performed as a jazz vocalist at cozy venues like the old Khyber Pub on infamously exciting South Street. But Rachelle's soulful repertoire also ventures into R&B, gospel and even folk-twinged music.

I enjoyed meeting Rachelle and her brother, Russell, on the Tom Joyner Cruise some years ago, and hung out a while with them. They are the coolest. Amazingly, Russell has the same exceptional vocal gift as his sister. He joined her on-stage to sing Will Downing's part in the duet "Nothing Has Ever Felt" and seriously blew everyone away! Clearly, the gift is in the Farrell genes.

Also performing at the African Festival, leading up to Rachelle Farrell in concert will be jazz great Mulgrew Miller at 4:30 p.m.

Two popular neo-soul acts are part of this year's African Festival as well. Fertile Ground performs on the World Music stage on opening day, Friday, August 29. And on Saturday, August 30, the French neo-soul duo Les Nubians gets under way at 6:15 p.m.

If you're a hip-hop music lover, the African Festival offers an awesome lineup for you, too. Special Ed, Lady of Rage and Big Daddy Kane all perfom live throughout the day and evening of Saturday, August 30. Keith Murray and Nice and Smooth are gracing the Hip-Hop Stage on Sunday, August 31. And last but not least, Black Sheep, Rhymefest and Brand Nubian do their killer old school-inspired thing on Monday, September 1.

For more about the 2008 African Festival of the Arts, check these links:

African Festival of the Arts

Mulgrew Miller [Wiki]

Rachelle Farrell [Wiki]

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