That's why we find ourselves disappointed by the lineup of this year's festival, which seems to have been put together mostly by curators who stopped paying attention a few moments before the Sugarhill Gang. This is a festival in Atlanta, but not really of Atlanta. Nevertheless, our black artists are innovators who have repeatedly caught the attention of the nation and the world, but they and their cutting-edge counterparts from around the country are meagerly represented at this year's NBAF.
Yes, we're glad to see country-cool Nappy Roots on the music roster, but where's the rest of the hip-hop music scene in this year's Billy Ocean of jazz and ponds of R&B? Will Power's one-man show, Flow, looks promising, but the big lights will be turned on True Colors' production of Pearl Cleage's Flyin' West. Why dust off a 13-year-old play when a new work by an established or rising African-American playwright could be premiered? Happy as we are to have Alvin Ailey dancer Ronald K. Brown's company, Evidence, come to town, it's the only dance company in the entire festival (not counting a collaboration with local percussionists/dancers Giwayen Mata). Only one African-American dance company? Really? And although black poets dominate the vibrant world of spoken word, the NBAF poetry programming seems like an afterthought.
There are plenty of good, talented, well-established black artists on the festival schedule this year. We just get the sense that NBAF is trying too hard to play it "safe," an adjective that, to their immense credit, has rarely characterized the work of black artists in America.
We know the NBAF has had to stretch its dollars as it makes the transition from a biannual to an annual festival (a move we wholeheartedly applaud), but why not spend a little less on museum pieces like the Neville Brothers (who are halfway to needing to change their names to the Neville Brothers' Sons) and use the savings to bring the many expressions of today's black avant-garde to the festival in a much bigger way?
Despite our misgivings, there are plenty of good shows to see this year. Read on for some of our favorites.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
"In response to Oydave's comment, "Look at the two pieces. Is the second a rip-off…
Tons of Atlanta artists use colorful geometric shapes. But to copy the exact colors, the…