Three Levitt venues embrace Black Pride this June

Left to right: Larmani, Alise King, and Cherisse Scott (Levitt Shell Memphis)

Left to right: Larmani, Alise King, and Cherisse Scott (Levitt Shell Memphis)

This June we celebrate Pride Month, commemorating the beauty and diversity of queer people everywhere. In addition to being a time of celebration, Pride is also a time to reflect, learn about, and acknowledge those throughout history who have advocated for LGBTQ+ communities and advanced their rights. With June also being Black Music Month and the time of Juneteenth, we’re excited to dive into the intersectional history of Pride, and spotlight the POC pioneers as well as musicians who have championed the movement.

But first, be sure to mark your calendar for three intersectional Pride events within the Levitt network. Levitt Pavilion Denver is hosting a live concert on June 18th to kick off Denver’s 2021 Juneteenth Music Festival, headlining Black GRAMMY-winning R&B group 112. This year, the Juneteenth Music Festival collaborates with The Center on Colfax, an LGBTQ+ community center, to produce Denver’s first ever Black Pride. Look forward to events such as The Majestic Melanated Cabaret, featuring drag entertainers of color, a Drag Gospel Brunch, and The Strange Fruit of Black Excellence Ball, celebrating the Black community.

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Levitt Shell Event
Levitt Shell Memphis is partnering with the area’s local Tri-State Black Pride to present the Tri-State Black Pride Music Festival live at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park on Sunday, June 20th from 5-10pm (CT), featuring nine Black and queer musicians from the local Memphis community. Catch artists including Cherisse Scott, a powerhouse singer-songwriter whose music runs the gamut from R&B to gospel to jazz, and drummer and bassist Arnishia King. All proceeds from the $20 admission fee are donated to Hope House, a Memphis-based non-profit that cares for individuals with HIV.

And over on the West Coast, Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles brings us HOMEplxce Healing Vortex: Juneteenth Pride Concert in collaboration with Wild Art Party, a series of events for diverse artists to showcase new and experimental performances to the public, and HOMEplxce, an educational consulting firm dedicated to mobilizing survivors of childhood sexual assault. This virtual event, happening at 12pm PT on June 26th, is a participatory space that celebrates Queer Black Joy, envisioning and celebrating creative interventions for collective freedom. Register for the livestream here: https://linktr.ee/HOMEplxce.

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Commemorating Juneteenth through music, storytelling, and education

Top left: Ranky Tanky, bottom left: Charlton Singleton, bottom right: Soul Rebels

Top left: Ranky Tanky, bottom left: Charlton Singleton, bottom right: Soul Rebels

On June 19, 1865, Black Americans living in Galveston, Texas rejoiced when they learned that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished throughout the United States, over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. At first called “Jubilee Day,” the day didn’t become known as Juneteenth until nearly a century later after gaining momentum during the Civil Rights Movement. Juneteenth serves as the oldest and most important Black holiday in American history and has since gained considerable recognition beyond the Black community. It is a day to celebrate Black freedom, the continual efforts towards racial justice, and the integral part that Black people had and continue to have in our country. Particularly during the past year, as the death of George Floyd reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and racism, Juneteenth and the people it represents have taken on greater urgency and more widespread significance.

This week, as a part of the 2021 Juneteenth celebrations happening across the country, we’re proud to share that both permanent Levitt venues in Bethlehem, Dayton, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Sioux Falls, and Levitt AMP concert sites in Springfield, Ill., and Fort Smith, Ark., are partnering with local organizations and businesses to host concerts and festivals filled with live performances featuring Black artists, including Tank and the Bangas, Ranky Tanky and Henry & The Reggae Rockers among many others, as well as educational activities and historical discussions about Juneteenth. Read below for details on these can’t-miss events celebrating the significance of this day. Additionally, as Juneteenth falls in the same month that celebrates Pride and Black music, we’re excited to see that a number of Levitt venues are embracing intersectional themes and activities to illustrate how music is a unifying force, a way for diverse identities and communities to relate to one another.

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Left to right: BettySoo, Dumbfoundead, Ruby Ibarra, River Run North, Lyrics Born

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, celebrating the significant yet sometimes overlooked role of AAPIs to the fabric of American culture and society. With the recent rise in anti-Asian racism and violence, it’s more important than ever to amplify the diverse AAPI voices, cultures and traditions that have helped shape American culture.

Today on our blog, we’re excited to share a fun new playlist that highlights the contributions of AAPI artists to contemporary music across a wide range of genres, featuring songs from five past Levitt performers like Lyrics Born, Ruby Ibarra and Run River North. Listen to folk, rock, rap, EDM and more from AAPI musicians across the country—scroll down or head over to our Spotify to listen!

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Using Levitt Pavilion Denver as a case study, a new white paper examines the role of community identity, collective memory, shifting perceptions and equitable belonging over time

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What is, and what should be, the role of the arts in communities undergoing change?

A new white paper, Listening to the Music of Community Change: Findings from a Pre/Post Research Study at Levitt Pavilion Denver, examines to what degree the development of a new cultural asset like an outdoor music venue plays a role in per­ceptions of a neighborhood and park over time, using Levitt Pavilion Denver as a case study. The study’s release follows a pandemic-fueled wave of interest in public spaces and offers timely insights for civic leaders, practitioners and funders seeking to build more equitable and thriving public spaces.

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Part of our series on the impact of Levitt AMP Bridge Grants

banner-2With most concerts postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, 2020 was a historically devastating year for live music and the creative ecosystems built around the industry. Despite these circumstances, each of our Levitt AMP grantees found innovative ways to keep their communities engaged through music, sparking joy and connection while providing paid performance opportunities for musicians. In addition to participating in the program-wide 2020 Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series, several grantees used funds from Levitt AMP Bridge Grants to bring free, live concerts to their communities in unconventional ways, both virtually and in-person. In today’s entry in our series on the impact of Bridge Grants, we’re honing in on how three Levitt AMP Communities — Sheboygan, Wis., Fort Smith, Ark., and Whitesburg, Ky. — creatively presented mobile, pop-up and drive-in shows in 2020.

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Part of our new series on the impact of Levitt AMP Bridge Grants nationwide

Today, as the second installment in our series showcasing the impact of the 2020 Levitt AMP Bridge Grants across the country, we’re turning our attention to three projects that engaged their communities through visual art: a vibrant mural in Middlesboro, Kentucky; a one-day sidewalk chalk festival in Trenton, New Jersey; and a community-made art installation in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia.  

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Today is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the achievements of women across the world while bringing visibility to gender bias and inequality. The theme of this year’s celebration is #ChooseToChallenge, highlighting the power of individuals to call out injustice and spark change. In music, female artists are perhaps more visible than ever, with performers like Rihanna, Arianna Grande, Cardi B, Lizzo, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish all reaching the highest echelons of mainstream success. Behind the scenes, however, women are still vastly underrepresented, and are far more likely to experience bias and harassment than their male peers working in the industry. Today on our blog, we bring attention to four sobering statistics that show how gender bias remains a pervasive force in the music industry, and throughout this month, which is Women’s History Month, we’ll be shining the light on some of the fearless females who are challenging the status quo.

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Part of our new series on the impact of Levitt AMP Bridge Grants nationwide

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Last spring, when Levitt AMP grantees postponed their in-person concert series due to COVID-19, the Levitt Foundation created the Levitt AMP Bridge Grant, a mini-grant of up to $5k to support community-building projects and foster connections during this time of crisis and uncertainty. We were inspired by the creativity and innovative thinking of Levitt AMP grantees, creating projects ranging from free food giveaways, to mobile concerts, to beautiful new public art installations.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing stories about individual Bridge Grant projects, and the impact they had on the community, here on our blog. To launch the series, and in honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting two projects with a specific focus on Black History: an educational guide to a mural celebrating local Black history in Ocala, Florida, which is now being used as a teaching tool in the city’s public schools, and a Black History Month virtual concert in Merced, California, streaming live from the historic Merced Theatre this Saturday.

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Top row: Fiona Apple; S+C+A+R+R; Alicia Keys; Middle row: PJ Morton; Dua Lipa; Stormzy; Adrianne Lenker; Bottom row: BTS; Chloe x Halle; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

As we prepare to bid adieu to 2020, we took a look back on some of the songs that brought our team joy and comfort throughout this year. Although the conventional concert experience was sorely missed by all, listening to music at home brought us inspiration and rejuvenation when we needed it most. Featuring a selection from each member of the Levitt team, our 2020 Staff Picks playlist includes both new releases and old favorites alike, bringing together sounds and moods from across the musical spectrum. With everything from upbeat pop productions, perfect for living room #MusicMoves, to slower, sentimental songs, suited for quiet evenings in, we hope you enjoy this quick, eclectic mix, created collectively by all of us. Head over to Spotify to listen now, or read to see each team member’s selection!

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As the global pandemic continues to impact the way we work, play, travel and gather, many of us are having to rethink our holiday plans this season. Fortunately, if you’re looking for some safe and festive family-friendly activities to spark your holiday spirit, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a list of free activities packed with holiday fun and creativity for you to enjoy with family and friends:

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