Every July, Atlanta gets taken over with National Black Arts Festival fever. Whether you take in the amazing dance troupes and musicians that the festival has brought to the city to perform, or the local theater groups and galleries that have created their own shows in partnership with the festival, you're certain to find something to catch the bug July 14-23. For more on the National Black Arts Festival, see Arts.
Locally based but nationally renowned director Kenny Leon helms Cheryl L. West's new musical, Rejoice! Depicting a family of singing evangelists, West's play showcases the work of Thomas Dorsey, the legendary "father of gospel music," and features old-school interpretations as well as hip-hop and country arrangements. True Colors Theatre Company performs the Broadway-bound musical at the Alliance Theatre July 13-23. $15. Check website for times. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.nbaf.org.
By Curt Holman
Grammy-nominated composer and trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe is known for creating works about some of the largest figures in African-American history. His latest piece, "A Great and Shining Light," was inspired by Civil Rights leader and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. Lokumbe plays trumpet July 14, backed by a 150-member choral group with lead vocals by Atlanta native Bernadine Mitchell, and other notable musicians. $25-$100. 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.nbaf.org.
By David Lee Simmons
Castleberry Hill's Romo Gallery presents the smart pairing of Atlanta artist Charles Huntley Nelson and New York artist Kalup Linzy in an exhibition of video and works on paper July 13. Nelson examines the idea of invisibility through the prism of H.G. Wells' sci-fi novel The Invisible Man and Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man, while critical darling Linzy explores gender, sex, race and class. Linzy also presents his performance art piece "LaBisha" -- a one-man show in which Linzy plays four different characters -- at fellow Castleberry Hill art gallery 3Ten Haustudio July 14. Romo Gallery opening: Free. 7-9 p.m. 309 Peters St. 404-222-9955. www.romogallery.com. 3Ten Haustudio performance: Free. 8 p.m. 310 Peters St. 404-524-6541. www.haustudio.com.
By Felicia Feaster
The 23-year-old Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company is, well, a force to be reckoned with. Made up of dancers and musicians, the New York City-based group explores the African diaspora's influences on American dance with a fusion of modern dance, traditional West African dance, martial arts and a combination of live and recorded music. The troupe performs at the Rialto Center July 21-22. $25. 8 p.m. 80 Forsyth St. 404-651-4727. www.nbaf.org.
By Layla Bellows