Ultimate guide to Birmingham’s Freedom Fest. 12 acts. 8 panels. Mayor Woodfin, ‘Funnymaine’, American Idol’s Ruben Studdard and more

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You don’t want to miss this one. The first ever Birmingham Freedom Fest – a new music and empowerment festival – will take place in the Birmingham Civil Rights District, Saturday, July 27. Here’s what you can expect and why you need to go.

For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets, visit www.freedomfestbhm.com. Tickets are also available at JB’s House of Fashion, 1630 Third Ave. West.

The full day and evening celebration will feature national recording artists such as Southern rap legends 8 Ball and MJG, R&B icon Midnight Star, legendary neo-soul superstar Musiq Soulchild, Birmingham’s own Ruben Studdard and Alvin Garrett and many more. Birmingham comedian FunnyMaine Johnson will host the main stage, which will be located at Fifth Avenue North and 16th Street North.

Grammy-nominated hip-hop soul artist Musiq Soulchild will take center stage on the evening of Freedom Fest. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Freedom Fest

In addition to established artists, up-and-coming artists will also get their moment in the spotlight. Rising Birmingham singer Love Moor will be showcased, along with the winner of an online competition that featured six talented local performers. The artist with the winning number of votes will perform during a set that evening.

“Festival organizers wanted to create an event that showcased the talent in our city and beyond,’’says Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Highlighting what is developing right here in our backyard, shows other up-and-coming creatives just what is possible if you work hard and put in the work. The hope is that Freedom Fest becomes an event that not only entertains, but also empowers.’’

Gates will open at 10 a.m. and the first acts will start around 12 p.m. The main entrance will be at Sixth Avenue North and 18th Street North. There will also be food trucks and food vendors. The hashtag for the event, which will be held rain or shine, is #FreedomFestBhm.

American Idol Ruben Studdard. Photo courtesy Birmingham Freedom Fest

“We are excited about this unique convergence of entertainment and empowerment. From the speakers, the music and the beauty of our city’s culture the festival will provide a live experience celebrating Birmingham’s spirit and purpose,” said Festival Producer Rashada LeRoy of LRY Media Group.

Lawn chairs will be allowed, but attendees should know there is a bag policy, said LeRoy. Backpacks and purses, will not be allowed. However, clear bags will be. Lawn chairs carried in holders will be subject to a search.

Parking will be available on area downtown streets; in Deck #7 at 18th Street North near Fifth Avenue North; and at the Boutwell deck. Parking at the two decks will be $10.

Performance times

12:05 PM – Festival opens with Kristen Glover, Alvin Garrett and the 205 Unity Choir
12:15 PM – Alvin Garrett
1:30 PM – DanI
2:05 PM – Riah2Crucial
2:30PM – Ruben Studdard
4:00 PM – Love Moor
5:30 PM – Midnight Star
6:30 PM – Freedom Fest Contest Winner
7:00 PM – Translee
8:50 PM – Musiq Soulchild
9:35 PM – 8Ball & MJG

Birmingham comedian Jermaine “Funnymaine’’ Johnson will keep the laughs coming at Freedom Fest he hosts the main stage.

Eight Empowerment Sessions Throughout the Day

Along with the music will be eight thought-provoking discussions, workshops and forums that will shine a light on issues of equality and civic engagement.

These conversations will be led by some of the brightest minds in advocacy such as Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, award-winning author and prison reform advocate Anthony Ray Hinton, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, Alabama State senators Linda Coleman-Madison and Vivian Figures, as well as local leaders and innovators in business, technology, beauty, the arts and urban planning. The discussion with Mayor Woodfin, Sen. Jones and Hinton, who was on Alabama’s Death Row for nearly 30 years for a crime he did not commit, will be followed by Sen. Jones and Hinton signing copies of their latest books.

 

“Birmingham has a rich culture of both music and empowerment. Freedom Fest is a showcase of both those worlds – our history of world-changing activism and our love of incredible music and entertainment,” said Mayor Woodfin. “Books-A-Million will also be at the festival with a pop-up bookstore about the city’s culture and beyond.

The empowerment sessions will be held throughout the Birmingham Civil Rights District, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and 16th Street Baptist Church.

The South Got Something To Say: Creative Consciousness: Main Stage at Kelly Ingram Park

12:45 pm – 1:10 pm

Panelists

Valencia ‘Mrs.Vee’ Johnson, Radio Personality, Minister, Motivational Speaker
Allysa “LyssaLou” Singer, Spoken Word Artist and Psychology Professional

Moderator – Dana Woodruff. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Freedom Fest

Moderator – Dana Woodruff, Radio Personality, Licensed Counselor and Media Company Owner

Sacred Spaces: Urban Planning in Historic Districts – Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm

Justin Moore, Executive Director, NYC Public Design Commission

Moderator – Ivan Holloway, Urban Impact Birmingham

Cracking Codes: The Power of STEM – St. Paul United Methodist Church – 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Panelists

Dr. Rayna Dyck, Skin Wellness Center Vice President
Dr. Denise Gregory, Assistant Provost and Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Samford University

Moderator – Ernie Williams, Alabama Power

She Decides: A Courageous Conversation about Women’s Rights – 16th Street Baptist Church 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Panelists

Alabama State Senator Linda Coleman-Madison
Alabama State Senator Vivian Davis Figures
Melanie Bridgeforth, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham

Dr. Nadia Richardson, Founder and Executive Director, No More Martyrs

Dr. Nadia Richardson, Founder and Executive Director, No More Martyrs

Moderator- Kelly Ann Scott, Vice President of Content, Alabama Media Group

Pathways to Prosperity – St. Paul United Methodist Church – 3:45 pm – 4:30 pm

Panelists

Bacarra Mauldin, Executive Director, Clastran
Zhaundra Jones, Senior Program Officer, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham
Ron Mathieu, Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham Airport Authority

UAB’s Dr. Anthony Hood

Moderator – Dr. Anthony Hood, Director of Civic Innovation, Office of the President, UAB

The Secrets of Her Success – 16th Street Baptist Church 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm

Panelists

Teresa Lundy, Principal and Founder, TML Communications LLC
Ashlee Ammons, Co-Founder and COO, Mixtroz
Carmen Bender, Phone Bank Manager, Wells Fargo

Moderator – Pam Cook, Coca Cola, Director of Multicultural Marketing & Community Affairs for Coca Cola UNITED’s Central Region

EmpowerHERment: The Beauty Session – Main Stage at Kelly Ingram Park – 4:40 pm – 4:55 pm

Panelists

Sheena Moore, Owner, The Loc Oasis,
Coco Moore, Owner, Coco Moore Beauty
Darrius Peace, Owner, Hayah Beauty

Courtney Kirk, Owner, The Kirk Effect

Courtney Kirk, Owner, The Kirk Effect

Moderator – Jeffrey Simmons, Co-Owner, Visions Beauty Distributors

Justice, Empathy and Advocacy – 16th Street Baptist Church – 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Presentation and 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Book Signing

Panelists

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin
U.S. Senator Doug Jones

Author & Prison Reform Advocate Anthony Ray Hinton

Moderator – Denise Gilmore, Senior Director, Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity, City of Birmingham

Mayor Woodfin added, “Not only is it a chance to have fun and enjoy performances from top national acts and our great home-grown talent, it’s a chance for our residents to join the conversation in some of our nation’s most important topics.”

More than a music festival, don’t miss Freedom Fest on July 27. Check out the entire lineup and make plans to attend. Get your tickets – HERE

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.