DC Funk Parade Festival celebrates Black Broadway

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews DC Funk Parade Festival (Part 1)

After canceling last year, the DC Funk Parade Festival is back this weekend.

It is presented by the nonprofit organization The MusicianShip from May 1-8.

“Last year’s cancelation was devastating,” Jessica Teachey of The MusicianShip told WTOP. “Thankfully, the 2020 Funk Parade was at such a successfully funded rate that we were able to roll over that support from our gracious sponsors to put together our hybrid and virtual ideas this year.”

This year’s hybrid festival will features three key events:

First, head to Alexandria, Virginia, for Aslin Beer Day on May 1.

“In 2019, we debuted our first annual beer with Aslin Beer Co.,” Teachey said. “It’s a beautiful recipe. It is one of the best craft beers I’ve ever had. … They’re a growing and quickly emerging craft beer brand right here in the region. … The cans are available at Funk Parade or at festival time. Each year they carry the brand and aesthetic of the festival, so they become fan culture.”

Second, you can join the Black Broadway Mural Walk on May 5.

“This is an awesome, intimate, VIP mural walk sponsored by the Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation,” Teachey said. “Historian Bernard Demczuk is going to lead … 15 different tours, not only in Black Broadway on the U Street corridor, but also in the Shaw neighborhood. … They will also catch three surprise performances from musicians that will make the murals come alive with sound.”

Third, you can participate in the Virtual Festival on May 8.

“Ticket holders will receive a private link where we will deliver pre-recorded festival content [by] Oh He Dead, We The Fix, Main Attraction Divaz, Les The DJ, OnRae LaTeal, Chazz G, Rallo Boykins … Rolloway Productions, Langston Hughes II of Howard University,” Teachey said. “They will also see the new 2021 Funk Parade documentary [and] two different Funk University panels.”

Sadly, there won’t be a parade this year due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

“One of our strongest suits of a festival and a parade is to be able to draw people together, not only in close proximity but in large numbers,” Teachey said. “If you look at where the world and our country is today still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, we just knew that we did not want to encourage any activities or large gatherings that could still be the communities we serve at risk.”

Founded in 2014, the Funk Parade has reached over 300,000 residents and visitors and has provided over 500 hours of performances by D.C.-based musicians, dancers and artists.

This year’s theme is “Black Broadway,” a nod to music history in the U Street corridor.

“There were icons and greats like Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holiday, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes combing through this awesome, iconic corridor,” Teachey said. “Ironically, it is the reason why this city and this neighborhood shall never be muted.”

Find ticket information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews DC Funk Parade Festival (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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