SummerStage 2016 is upon us, folks! City Parks Foundation is proud to announce this year’s season of SummerStage, NYC’s largest free performing arts festival with 115+ free performances throughout the 5 boroughs.
The festival’s 30 Year Anniversary season last year was heavily influenced by hip-hop culture. This year’s lineup will highlight the classic styles of Jazz. More jazz performances will be featured this year than ever before with nearly half a dozen planned to take place at Central Park. The jazz focus coincides with the upcoming centennial of jazz’s inception and its introduction to the music world, as well as what would have been the 100th birthday of jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and the lovely Ella Fitzgerald, among others.
Here are a few words from Executive Artistic Director, Erika Elliott about what SummerStage attendees can expect from this year’s exciting events.
What can SummerStage fans look forward to for the 2016 season?
I am really proud of the 2016 lineup, and particularly the shows we have in Brooklyn.
This summer we are celebrating jazz as the overarching theme, so we have a screening of “What Happened, Miss Simone?” with a performance by her daughter Lisa Simone in Saratoga Park. We also have “Soul in the Horn” featuring Theo Crocker, Maurice Mo Betta Brown, Marcus Machado, and Kendra Foster in Herbert Von King Park.
We have one of our best Brooklyn lineups ever this year, including: Angie Stone, Public Enemy, and the annual Duck Down BBQ, all in Betsy Head Park; Just Blaze and then Liza Jesse Peterson presented by the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in Coffey Park; and Rhymefest and a screening of the documentary “In My Father’s House,” a film about about him reuniting with his father, in Saratoga Park.
Basically every day of June we have something happening in Brooklyn that’s worth seeing!
What stands out to you personally for this year?
I am really excited that we are offering full week runs in the parks we serve outside of Central Park. This means that the parks we are in get more shows and a greater diversity of offerings, from film and dance, spoken word to theater, and of course music.
And in championing jazz as a theme this year, we are both celebrating the historical significance of this important art form and just as importantly making it accessible to audiences and people who may never have seen it, especially not live. Hopefully changing perceptions and gaining new fans for the genre in the process!
What makes SummerStage special in comparison with other local festivals?
What I am most proud of this year, and always as the producer of SummerStage, is the variety of performances we offer and that we serve the entire city.