There aren’t many festivals that can bring the complete essence of black music and culture to the forefront in one setting.
For 20 years, Jason Orr’s FunkJazz Kafé has provided attendees with fascinating shows that highlight the journey of black people through music, dance, art and spoken word. On the music front, FunkJazz Kafé delves into jazz, soul, funk, R&B, house and hip-hop without missing a beat.
To celebrate the festival’s 20th anniversary, Orr presented a show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on Oct. 25. The concert venue was transformed into three levels of different cultural experiences.
The basement level was used as a vending location where business owners sold art, jewelry, music and food. The second level featured the main stage and several artists working on paintings. The third level featured a house party-themed dance room, and a spoken word lounge where poets provided their truth while backed by a live band.
The main stage came alive two hours after the doors opened as a live band and DJ warmed the crowd up and served as a prelude for things to come. Jessica Care moore opened by spitting a poem over Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N—” instrumental. An all-female drum troupe followed moore, and soulful newcomers King proved that they have what it takes to be stars in soul music. The Los Angeles-based trio could be considered a new-age hybrid of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Floetry.
An all-brass band backed Bone Crusher as he performed his hit “Never Scared,” and Soul II Soul’s Caron Wheeler took the crowd down memory lane with her hit, “Back to Life.”
Before the event, Orr spoke with rolling out about the legacy of FunkJazz Kafé.
“FunkJazz Kafé is built on preservation, sustainability and innovation,” Orr said. “It honors what black people have contributed to this country and all cultures.”