Summer Spirit to Return With Stellar Lineup of Entertainers

Acts Include Both Local and National Performers

Janelle Monaé
Janelle Monaé (WI File photo)

For its 12th anniversary and its second year offering a full weekend of family-friendly outdoor music and arts, the Summer Spirit Festival will return to the greater Washington area at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, with superstars that include Babyface, Fantasia, Trombone Shorty and EU featuring the iconic Sugar Bear.

And according to the one-two punch of the concert’s promoters, Darryll Brooks and Carol Kirkendall, under the umbrella of CD Enterprises, Inc., they’re back because a cadre of devoted fans continue to support the event, eagerly awaiting a diverse lineup of performers representative of the broad spectrum of musical genres that makeup the Black musical world.

The two promoters talked about this year’s festival, the changes they’ve made and the challenges that local company’s like theirs must now confront in an ever-changing industry.

“When we decided to expand to two days last year, we knew we’d have to do even more planning while also adding popular features like VIP tickets and guaranteed meet and greets which people really seem to enjoy,” they said. “We’re also quite proud of our backstage area which serves as a meeting place not only for the artists but for local radio hosts and members of the community who help us make this one of the best festivals in the country. We’ve even included an extraordinary chef who whips up culinary delights throughout the two days which adds to the marvelous ambience behind the curtains.”

When the festival kicks off Aug. 5, continuing through Aug. 6, the lineup will feature both local favorites and nationally-acclaimed entertainers who come from the four corners of the U.S. Some have become household names while others, although equally as talented, may be newcomers for many of this year’s fans say Brooks and Kirkendall.

“We always showcase local folks and this year we’ll continue that tradition with DJ Kool and Trouble Funk featuring Big Tony who have already made it big in Europe,” the two said. “Others like Wisdom Speeks have been among our fans’ favorites for years. We also have some old school legends like De La Soul, En Vogue and SWV and a few who have enjoyed recent success like Common and Jazmine Sullivan. We embrace and present the entire circle of music that’s become the bread and butter of the Black community — something you just don’t get from any other festival in the area.”

Brooks and his business partner note that they’ve had to make some adjustments recently with the number of summer festivals in the U.S. increasing annually by leaps and bounds.

“The demand for these festivals, including making available an Afrocentric marketplace that features a lot of individual designers with goods for sale from sculptures and clothing to hats and earrings, has really increased since we first got involved. In the D.C. area we must also contend with three casinos all within a 20-mile radius who realize the potential of such events and are doing their best to attract Blacks who love neo-soul and other popular and contemporary styles of music,” they said.

Still, the dynamic duo believes it has the best hand in the DMV with a history that proves it.

“Even though the competition has changed in the last four or five years, we still know that this venue, Merriweather, the interactive approach taken by our local radio celebrities who set up shop on the grounds and most of all the music, all combine to attract more and more music lovers each year,” they added.

“We’re about love, togetherness, relationships and that always-celebrated nostalgic touch where we bring acts from the past for our go-go and hip-hop fans,” they said. “When we put on an event like Summer Spirit, it’s not just another concert — it’s an event, a homecoming, a family reunion and a rare chance for old and new friends to connect.”

Tickets remain on sale but continue to go fast. Get yours by visiting www.merriweathermusic.com, the Merriweather Post box office or www.cdepresents.com.

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About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 165 Articles

Award-winning journalist, book editor, voice-over specialist and author with 17 years in the industry. Currently an education and religion beat reporter for The Washington Informer. But I also tackle local (D.C. and Maryland) politics, entertainment, business and health articles to maintain my edge.

Born and raised in Motown and a staunch Wolverine – that is a graduate of the University of Michigan, I left corporate America (IBM) to pursue my passion for writing, accepting a beat reporter’s gig under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. I continued to hone my craft at N’DIGO Magapaper, Windy City Times and The Wednesday Journal, all in Chicagoland; the Atlanta Voice and The Miami Times. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen twice as the Feature Writer of the Year by the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. Later, as the senior editor of one of the country’s oldest Black-owned newspapers, The Miami Times, I helped my staff bring home the NNPA’s highest honor – Publication of the Year, 2001. That same year I picked up first and second place awards for news and feature writing, respectively, also from the NNPA.

Today I’m based in the nation’s capital where I’m honored to serve as the editor for The Washington Informer. Recognizing the importance of education, I’ve earned two master’s degrees from Emory University, Summa Cum Laude and Princeton Theological Seminary, majoring in theology and philosophy.

If I can slow down, I may actually complete and publish a collection of essays I’ve been working on for many years, “Growing up Motown,” sharing childhood memories of experiences with musical legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight and Take Six. My favorite foods: spinach, lasagna, pancakes and Oysters Rockefeller. My mom, 86, always my “best friend” and “cheerleader,” now lives with me and she brings me great joy. I’m a fiercely protective yet encouraging father and grandfather always down for traveling, shopping or celebrating the natural beauty of God’s world. I live by the following words: “Less is more” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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