By Micha Green
D.C. Editor

This reporter lived out some Hip Hop fantasies at the Kennedy Center in 2019.  You read it right- the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, offered several Hip Hop and Contemporary Music programming in 2019- with further plans in 2020- that would be on many Hip-Hop heads’ must-have experience list.  

First there was the Black Girls Rock! Fest in March 2019

In September, there was the moment during the opening festival at the Reach, when audiences witnessed Arrested Development in an amazing and intimate concert.  After the show, the group saw all the fans who had missed the full concert, as the venue was over capacity, and offered a snippet of their Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy in an a cappella version of their hit song “Everyday People.”

The Roots rocked the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 29. (Photo by Micha Green)

The series with Robert Glasper and several of his artist friends was a moment to remember.  It was so much good music.

There was also the conversation and performance featuring veteran rapper Pharaohe Monch.

In November, rapper Lupe Fiasco spent hours on stage, openly sharing his politics, performing some of his greatest songs and sharing stories about his life and career.

Artist Questlove at The Roots‘ performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 29. (Photo by Micha Green)

Then, in the final days of the decade, the Kennedy Center brought the legendary group The Roots, and for almost three hours they rocked the house.

Angela Jones, dean of arts at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, was present for the concert and shared her thoughts on the significance of The Roots’ performance.

“As a cultural hub, Kennedy Center is conscious about elevating their programming to include more diverse audiences. It was excellent to see that The Roots was added to the roster of this year’s offering.”

Artist Questlove at The Roots‘ performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 29. (Photo by Micha Green)

The show mixed several genres with the focus being on the soul, funk and swagger of Hip Hop. With rapper Black Thought, drummer Questlove, and a great group of artists who stand out in their own right, The Roots creates an unforgettable show that keeps audiences on their feet and singing along from start to finish.

Some show-stopping moments included their hit single “You Got Me,” as well as Wu-Tang and Stevie Wonder tributes; their high energy dance and big band movements kept the audience entertained and engaged the entire evening.

Despite the tired feet from standing and dancing the whole night, audiences left the Kennedy Center energized after experiencing their electrifying performance.

Having been wowed by The Roots’ live show before, Jones said attending the concert was part of her holiday festivities.

“Attending The Roots concert was a part of my holiday music enjoyment and outing with loved ones. The Roots crew consistently gives a mind-blowing presentation of instrumentation and lyricism,” she said.

Jones, who is a vocalist in addition to her responsibilities of fostering the next generation of young artists at Ellington, weighed in on the importance of The Roots and impact of their music.

“As a fellow artist and arts educator, I always enjoy how their show and related experiences connect communities under the power of music.”

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor