The Billie Holiday Festival, featuring Singer Maysa, left, and Robyn Dixon of the Real Housewives of the Potomac, returns virtually this year. (Courtesy Photo)

By AFRO Staff

The Billie Holiday Festival returns for its second year on Sept.12 and Sept. 13. The two-day virtual festival will be packed with thoughtful speakers, talented musicians, cooking demos and more, all highlighting the history and current talent along Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Avenue corridor. The event will be hosted by Robyn Dixon of the Real Housewives of the Potomac, and celebrated singer Maysa will headline the event.

Produced by the Upton Planning Committee (UPC), the festival is a collaborative initiative supported by a consortium of community stakeholders. 

The UPC’s Executive Director Wanda Best said, “We were going to do it in a big way this year, but with the pandemic, we thought, ‘this would be a good opportunity to do it virtually, pull in the HBCUs, and next year it will be big and in-person.’”

Last year, the festival reached nearly 5,000 Baltimoreans during its in-person event, but this year, as they adapt to the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, the festival will be able to extend beyond the city limits, hopefully drawing in an even larger audience. 

Harpool Media is managing the back-end production of the digital event. Adrian Harpool, the company’s principal said, “While we’ve done a lot of live events in the past, we had to pivot in April to virtual events, and have been doing that ever since.”

Attendees can tune in to “The Historic Upton Neighborhoods” Facebook page to take part in the weekend’s festivities. The event will also stream live on Youtube. 

For folks who are lamenting the fact that many HBCU homecoming events will be canceled this year, be sure to tune for a step show from the Divine 9, as well as a battle of the bands featuring players from as far and wide as Mississippi Valley and Texas A&M, in addition to nearby favorites Morgan State and Howard University. A special segment called A Taste of the Avenue will showcase local eateries like the Capital Lounge for cooking demos and featured recipes. Sunday will be a day full of praise, with a gospel program interspersed with inspirational messages from local pastors.

All the fun starts at noon on Saturday, 9/12. Check out or like The Historic Upton Neighborhoods on Facebook for updates.