Each year, in celebration of National Black Music Month, the I Too Sing America Organization of NWI (ITSA) puts on a festival of African American music and culture in East Chicago, IN. This year’s event took place on June 27 and drew a crowd larger than ever before.
The festival, called Celebrating Black Music in the Park, was held in Washington Park, which is located in the center of East Chicago. Approximately 750 people were in attendance.
The event just completed its eighth year and provided entertainment, ethnic food, crafts and vendor booths for all who stopped by. In addition to professional musical guests, much of the entertainment at the festival was put on by local, amateur musicians showcasing their talents.
One of the trademark elements of the festival is the reception for Northwest Indiana natives being inducted into the Black Music Hall of Fame. The inductees have been celebrated in East Chicago since 2008 and have fallen into the categories of: gospel artists, vocalists, entertainers, promoters and disc jockeys. As a tribute to the late Maya Angelou, poets were added to the list in 2014.
Another highlight of the festival for many is the opportunity to interact with nationally recognized recording artists. Amateur musicians who performed that day were able to ask questions about the music industry and have them answered by someone with extensive experience. This year, professional performers included DLow, Howard Hewett, Elena Love and many more.
The production was funded by donations from community members, small business sponsorships and a grant from Foundations of East Chicago, who also provided grants for the festival in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
With the continued growth of the festival, ITSA has increased its efforts in garnering donations and sponsorships. To learn more about the festival or how to donate, visit www.itoosingamericanwi.com.