Chicago-raised hip-hop star and social activist Common will perform a free concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on June 5, to open the 40th anniversary season of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, one of the nation’s longest-running free summer festivals.
This year’s full lineup of free BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival shows has not yet been announced. Ticketed benefit shows at the Prospect Park bandshell will feature The Decemberists June 13th, Vance Joy and Alice Merton June 14, Joe Russo’s Dead July 19 and Good Vibes with Jason Moran and Brett Dennen Aug. 7.
Presented by BRIC, a non-profit and leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival has reflected the remarkable diversity of its home borough since its launch in 1979 and its opening concert is marquee event of the New York summer season. In recent years, artists booked to open the festival include: Chaka Khan, David Byrne, Jimmy Cliff, Janelle Monáe and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, in one of Jones’ final concerts.
In 2015, Common appeared in the Oscar-nominated film Selma about the civil rights marches of the 1965. With John Legend, he shared an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for the song “Glory,” which was featured in the film. His most recent studio album, Black America Again, released in 2016, included the title track, which he performed with Stevie Wonder; and the closing anthem “Letter to the Free;” heard on Ava Duvernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary 13TH, for which Common also received a 2017 Emmy for best music and lyrics.
Common’s performance will be preceded by an opening night gala, which will honor BRIC president Leslie Griesbach Schultz, who has announced she will step down from her position in June. Under Schultz’s leadership, since 2005, BRIC has grown from $3.7 million to $15.8 million in annual operating revenues and significantly expanded its programming, education initiatives and community-engagement work.
“Leslie has been a driving force behind the growth of BRIC and its expanding role as a leader in the New York City cultural landscape,” says Hilary Ackermann, chair of the BRIC board of directors. “BRIC would not be where it is today, were it not for Leslie’s stewardship. The Board is thrilled for the opportunity to honor her extraordinary legacy among BRIC’s closest friends and partners.”