Celebrate Brooklyn! Announces Summer Season With Chaka Khan, Lucinda Williams, Esperanza Spalding

Chaka Khan
Helen Boast/Redferns via Getty Images

Chaka Khan performs on stage at the New Year's Eve Masterjam at Media City Amphitheatre on December 31, 2014 in Dubai.

Esperanza Spalding, Lucinda Williams, The New Pornographers and Third World are among the diverse headliners announced today for the Celebrate Brooklyn! performing arts series, one of the nation’s longest-running free summer festivals, which will open June 3 with a performance by Chaka Khan in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Ticketed benefit shows for the festival also will be staged at the Prospect Park bandshell this summer by Damien Rice, Interpol, Modest Mouse, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Willie Nelson with Old Crow Medicine Show.

The Celebrate Brooklyn! season begins with the 2015 Brooklyn Bridge Park Dance Parties on the banks of the East River across from the skyline of Manhattan.  The first show in that three-night series (May 14, 21 and 28) will feature Sonny Knight & the Lakers Rhythm Review and former Roseland Ballroom DJ and radio host Felix Hernandez.

In the crowded summer festival season, Celebrate Brooklyn! stands apart, not just because of its 36-year history. As Brooklyn’s cachet as a center of musical culture has grown, the reputation of Celebrate Brooklyn! has risen in turn. After debuting in 1979 during darker days for New York City, in an effort to draw visitors back into Prospect Park, the festival both boosted and benefited from the renaissance of Brooklyn.

Although Brooklyn is only one of the five boroughs that make up New York, its population of 2.6 million means it would rank as the fourth-largest city in the U.S., were it independent. The borough boasts a rich cultural mix and a tradition of home-grown musicians, the two factors that give Celebrate Brooklyn! its distinctive place on the U.S. festival circuit.

Jack Walsh and Rachel Chanoff, executive producer and artistic director, respectively, have helped guide Celebrate Brooklyn! for more than 30 years, creates a lineup of musical genres and performing arts that reflects that diversity. 

In the past year, they have expanded their bookings year-round with varied performances at BRIC House, a performance space in downtown Brooklyn, run by the non-profit arts group BRIC, the parent organization of the Celebrate Brooklyn! festival.

The full Celebrate Brooklyn! lineup is available here.