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28th Annual Concert of Colors virtual event features exciting lineup

Concert of Colors

DETROIT, MI -- The 28th Annual Concert of Colors, the largest free world music and diversity festival in the Midwest, and its partner institutions announce The Don Was Detroit All Star Revue will take the stage to tribute John Lee Hooker.

Other artists this year include Digging Roots, Last Gasp Collective and more global sensations.

This year the festival will be broadcast on Detroit Public TV (56.1) and WDET 101.9 FM, October 6-11 – and streamed on their digital sites for worldwide audiences.

Music samples of performers can be heard at

AARP Michigan is among the sponsors.

“With artists so prestigious, this year there is almost “no opener” as all of them are deserving of top billing,” said festival Executive Director and founder Ismael Ahmed. “It will be very powerful to hear what kind of music will come out of these fabulous musicians during this strange time in the planet’s history. With so many events being cancelled around the world, Concert of Colors and our partners are proud to have created an outlet for musicians to come together to perform this year. We all need music right now.”

“While we are normally all together dancing on the streets and in the aisles at the festival, we will do this from our collective homes this year. This year’s lineup of musicians and artists from around the world celebrate the diversity that makes the Motor City so unique and important to global music.”

This year’s lineup (broadcast on Detroit Public TV unless noted) includes:

  • 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10: The Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue: Returning to the festival again by popular demand for his annual show. Acclaimed producer, Blue Note Records president, and Detroit native Don Was assembles his house band and annual revue of local artists. This year’s revue will serve as a tribute to John Lee Hooker, featuring: Rock & Roll of Famer (Tutor to Jimi Hendrix) Billy Davis; Detroit Blues Legend Emanual Young; Award-winning blues rocker Laith Al-Saadi;  blues singer-songwriter powerhouse Thornetta Davis; roots musician-storyteller Reverend Robert Jones, jazz poet John Sinclair, drummer Tino Gross, harpist Harmonica Shah, drummer Muruga Booker, R&B funk-rock vocalist Tosha Owens and soul-funk blues musician Chris Canas, Detroit Born Blues guitar virtuosos Howard Glazer and Emanuel Young, Detroit deep soul artist Laura Rain and celebrated blues guitarist Bobby Murray with powerful blues and soul singer Lenny Watkins. The deep impact Hooker has on each artist can be seen, felt and heard in this raw, profound performance lead by Don Was.
  • 10 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10: Digging Roots: Indigenous Canadian roots-rock group. Bursting from Turtle Island, Canada with their global folk, pop, blues, reggae and soul sounds, ShoShona and Raven, are the beating heart of Digging Roots. They breathe life into songs from their land and Indigenous Anishinabe and Onkwehonwe traditions. Since Digging Roots’ inception they have won numerous awards, toured in Europe, the US, Mexico, Australia, and from east-to-north-to-western Canada multiple times. They also have three albums under their belt including a JUNO. Currently Raven is finishing a new Digging Roots album with ShoShona titled ‘Zhawenim’. Raven and ShoShona have been managing Digging Roots for ten years. Digging Roots is one of the most beloved and well-known artists in its genre today and the duo’s performances leave impressions among audiences as the artists challenge each other musically with every note.
  • 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8: Sean Blackman’ In Transit: Detroit Jazz & Rock Meets Balkan Style! Music and dance. Beloved Detroit-born award-winning composer/producer and nylon string guitarist known for mixing traditional global music with a funky Detroit rhythm section. For the Concert of Colors stage, Blackman has curated a show that focuses on both upbeat and heartfelt music from the Balkan regions, and Armenia. His unique, sensual, yet celebratory world music is steep in ethnic music from across the globe performed by top musicians in each genre plus jazz, rock and soul that comes from the city of Detroit’s nightclubs, streets and music studios. Blackman, selects the most talented and celebrated international artists to share his stage. Each show is a vivid, festive atmosphere of music and dance. Blackman takes audiences on a journey around the world through performances, always landing in the legendary city of Detroit. His shows are curated to bring people together from every corner of the Earth.
  • 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 9: Xao Dong Wei: At the age of 5, powerful Xiao Dong Wei began studying the erhu (the Chinese two-stringed violin) with her father. At age 11, she was accepted into the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Ten years later, she earned her degree becoming a 'Master of the Erhu'.  After receiving numerous performance-based awards, she gained official notoriety by touring with the Chinese Motion Picture Orchestra before moving to the United States in 2005. Interestingly, Xiao Dong Wei found Detroit to be the ideal place to fuse her traditional sounds of the West with the modernist hues of the East. She broke ground by forming an alternative chamber music trio comprised of a bluegrass guitarist, a mandolin player, and Xiao Dong on erhu. During this time she used her classical repertoire and progressive jazz influences as a foundation to explore her own inner creativity. Shortly afterward, she teamed up with new bandmates Djeto Juncaj, Leo Gillis, and Paul Ossy to form 'XD Wei', releasing her full-length album, String Theory.
  • Since 2007, Xiao Dong continues to influence the sounds of modern music with her band, 'Madame XD'.  Xiao Dong collaborated with Japanese-born Steinway artist virtuoso Yuki Mack to record their symbolic album Where East Meets West. Xiao Dong is currently a lecturer at the University of Michigan residential college. Her haunting, modern performances are a mix of charismatic garage band persona and refined classical style.
  • 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9: Last Gasp Collective: This diverse group was brought together by a mutual obsession for art, whether it’s hip hop, jazz, classical, soul, or R&B. Their live arrangements are reminiscent of The Internet, The Roots and Hiatus Kaiyote and Tank and The Bangas, where melodic cello or sax lines, jazz harmony and gospel piano set the soundscape under the soulful voices and poetic lyricism of Jessica Ivey and Jay Jackson. They’ve earned 2 WYCE Jammies for best album by a new artist. Last Gasp debunks stereotypes one melody at a time and its music touches individuals from all walks of life. Every song during the performance completely different from the next, the music created is R&B and Hip Hop hybrid with a gospel backdrop - Feel a true collective energy as this larger than life group joins the festival.
  • 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7: Alina Morr & Fuego with Special Guest
    RicanStruction: A new arts and cultural programming organization that promotes the richness and diversity of Latino cultures. Based on the historical work of its predecessor/sister organization BombaRica, it’s particular emphasis is on the Spanish speaking Caribbean. Utilizing a performance/lecture approach, RicanStruction presents a musical journey through the Spanish Speaking Caribbean and other regions of Latin America with significant African-Hispanic presence that provides a historical perspective on how three primary cultural and racial currents (African, Spanish, Native American) have influenced present day Latin American music and culture. The performance troupe includes its director Osvaldo “Ozzie” Rivera, dancers Celia Benvenutti, Angela Lugo, Sheila Royster, singer/dancer Naim Edwards as well as percussionists Chinelo Amen Ra, and Enrique Hernandez.

  • 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7 and 12 A.m., Thursday, Oct. 8 on WDET 101.9 FM: Leafar Village, A Centennial Tribute to Charlie Parker: A centennial tribute to jazz saxophonist and composer Charles Bird Parker Hailing from Detroit, Rafael Leafar is a multi-instrumentalist—master of saxophones, clarinets, flutes, piano, and electronica—as well as a composer, producer, educator, and creative improvisational performer. His connection to music was jazz, fostered by a musical family from an early age. His parents made life-changing investments to guarantee him access to quality education, moving back and forth to the suburbs while providing fruitful performance opportunities in Detroit that resulted in graduation from DSA, Detroit Civic Jazz Orchestra, and The New School for jazz. Since 2009, Leafar has had major recordings and performances with legendary artists such as: Reggie Workman, Robert Hurst, Marcus Belgrave, Spencer Barefield, Wendell Harrison, Jeff Tain Watts, Marion Hayden, and Sterling Toles. What a show this will be!
  • 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7 on DPTV and 12 A.m., Thursday, Oct. 8 on WDET 101.9 FM: Ed Love Tribute – A homage to the Detroit jazz radio legend, Ed Love has entertained and introduced new audiences to the best jazz in the world. He hosted the nationally syndicated program The Evolution of Jazz, aimed to educate and entertain listeners on 125 stations nationwide. For more than 37 years Ed's show Destination Jazz: The Ed Love Program has been enjoyed by fans on WDET 101.9 Public Radio Detroit every Saturday. A moving, sweet, tribute by a fascinating radio legend.
  • 8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11 on WDET Public Radio 101.9 FM & Science Gallery Detroit: Science Gallery Detroit Presents: John Collins and Mark Flash Get ready! Underground Resistance is a label for a movement. A movement that wants change by sonic revolution. “We urge you to join the resistance and help us combat the mediocre audio and visual programming that is being fed to the inhabitants of Earth, this programming is stagnating the minds of the people; building a wall between races and preventing world peace. It is this wall we are going to smash. By using the untapped energy potential of sound we are going to destroy this wall much the same as certain frequencies shatter glass. Techno is a music based in experimentation; it is music for the future of the human race. Without this music there will be no peace, no love, no vision. By simply communicating through sound, techno has brought people of all different nationalities together under one roof to enjoy themselves. Isn't it obvious that music and dance are the keys to the universe?”

    John Collins is a staple in the Detroit electronic music scene as an artist, producer, record label executive and booking agent. Detroit’s WJLB FM 98 and WDRQ 93.1, both gave him legendary mix shows.

    For Mark Flash, it began with him playing music with his father. Then he started incorporating instruments to his DJ sets in the neighborhood of Southwest Detroit. As Mark’s reputation started to grow, he began his alliance with Underground Resistance and became international. 

    Of Detroit’s techno royalty, Underground Resistance is deep within. It is a movement and an experience.
  • 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6 (on Detroit Public TV and FB) Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture & Race: Community Self-Determination:  The Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture & Race, one of the Arab American National Museum’s signature annual events, is a dynamic gathering of artists, activists and advocates who use performance and dialogue as a tool for advocacy and community building. This year’s program will be presented online at The forum will be lead by Ismael Ahmed, Concert of Colors festival founder; radio host, This Island Earth; Ahmed was appointed executive director of ACCES in 1983 and was responsible for overall operations of the organization as well as the executive administration of the Arab American National Museum. The largest Arab-American human services organization in the United States, ACCESS has affiliates in 11 states and offers more than 90 programs with more than 900,000 client contacts annually. He was also director of Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and Associate Provost and Senior Advisor to the Chancelor at U of M -Dearborn.

    Panelists/performers (more TBA):  
    Leila Awadallah, Interdisciplinary performance artist
    Sterling Toles, Sonic and visual artist Malik Kenyatta Yakini, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
    Moderator: Charles Ezra Ferrell, Vice-President for Public Programs & Community Engagement, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Concert of Colors will air in primetime on Detroit Public TV two hours a night for four consecutive nights, as well as being simulcast on Detroit Public Radio (WDET) and streamed online worldwide.


  • 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, October 6, Live streamed on Detroit Public TV and FB
  • 7-9. p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7 on DPTV; and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WDET 101.9 FM
  • 9 p.m., Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Oct. 8, 9 & 10 , DPTV and WDET  101.9 FM
  • 8-10 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11 on WDET 101.9 FM

The announcement was made by Concert of Colors, along with its partners CultureSource, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, ACCESS/Arab American National Museum, Michigan Science Center, University of Michigan-Dearborn, University of Michigan Detroit Center, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Midtown Inc., Marx Layne & Co., Detroit Public Television, WDET 101.9 FM, Scarab Club, Science Gallery Detroit, Hellenic Museum of Michigan and College for Creative Studies.
Generous sponsors include Knight Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, DTE Energy,  AARP Michigan, Zingerman’s Deli, Mark Bernstein and Rachel Bendit Bernstein.

Concert of Colors is also partnering with world music festivals across the globe to broadcast the Detroit event to broad audiences worldwide.

For more information visit,, Instagram: @concertofcolors

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