City Parks Foundation is thrilled to announce the 2019 season of Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage,
New York City’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival, bringing nearly 100 free and benefit shows to Central Park and 17 neighborhood parks throughout the five boroughs. This year’s festival will showcase 200 renowned artists and rising stars from around the world to local neighborhood parks, presenting distinctly New York genres — salsa, jazz, and hip-hop — alongside indie, reggae, Afrobeat, soul, contemporary dance, and much more.
Capital One is the festival’s new multi-year title sponsor (Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage) and its official bank and credit card. A presenting sponsor since 2015, Capital One has helped SummerStage bring more than 500 artists to 800,000 audience members in parks all around New York City.
“Capital One is proud to elevate our long-standing support for SummerStage as the title sponsor,” said Michael Slocum, President, Commercial Banking and Northeast Regional President, Capital One. “Free live music and dance performances bring neighborhoods to life. We are committed to helping communities thrive by supporting SummerStage performances and keeping them free and open for all New Yorkers to enjoy.”
SummerStage has a long history of presenting artists on the verge of breaking big. The launch of the 2019 season will build on that legacy with the reopening of SummerStage in Central Park on Saturday, June 1 as a night of discovery. Audiences will be introduced to both a refurbished venue and to the music industry’s next big stars. The night will feature New York City native, the soulful R&B singer songwriter
Emily King, along with developing artists and deep soul revival band Durand Jones & the Indications, and more throughout the evening.
“This is a very big year for SummerStage. Not only are we reopening our storied Central Park venue, modernizing it for its next 30 years, but we are also partnering with our new title sponsor and looking to the future by launching the season with young musicians representing the next generation,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “Of course, throughout the summer, we will present a line-up that is reflective of our city’s population, focusing not only on gender equality, but also on the huge diversity of cultures and backgrounds that make New York so special and exciting.”
As a women-run festival with a mission of diversity and inclusion, SummerStage is helping to transform the future of the music industry by participating in the PRS Foundation’s international Keychange pledge and presenting a lineup this season that features a 50:50 gender balance. SummerStage is one of the few local festivals that has achieved this goal. Notable performances by women this summer will include two break-out female-fronted Canadian pop bands Alvvays and The Courtneys; Spanish soul-pop singer and Latin Grammy winner Buika, who will be joined by A-WA, a Yemenite-Israeli sister trio; an all-female lineup of Taiwanese talents including One Fang; Wendy Whelan, former principal ballerina and current Associate Artistic DIrector with the New York City Ballet, presenting her new work-in-progress, Carnival of the Animals; La India, New York native and one of salsa’s biggest voices; rapper and activist Ana Tijoux; legendary drummer and icon Sheila E.; multi-Grammy winner and jazz songstress Corinne Bailey Rae; and Grammy-winning folkloric-style Mexican singer Lila Downs.
SummerStage will continue its tradition of identifying the best new artists and bringing together strong voices from around the world to perform in New York City, some for the very first time. Highlights will include Calypso King of the World, Mighty Sparrow; Puerto Rican salsero Ray De La Paz, who will be joined by boricua salsero, Edgar Joel; legendary Brazilian artist Alceu Valença; Afrobeat quartet Magic System, who will be joined by Burkinabe rapper Smarty and Ivory Coast’s DJ Birane; and a night showcasing women of the Latin diaspora headlined by Mexican pop singer-songwriter Ximena Sariñana.
SummerStage will recognize a number of pivotal anniversaries citywide through specially-curated shows including the 100th birthday of the Harlem Renaissance to be celebrated during the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival; the 100th birthday of iconic choreographer Merce Cunningham featuring the Stephen Petronio Company and former Cunningham dancer Melissa Toogood; the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and WorldPride celebrations with two shows — New Orleans bounce queen Big Freedia and all-male ballet troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo; the commemoration of the Harlem Cultural Festival known as Black Woodstock with bandleader Igmar Thomas, MC Talib Kweli and trumpeter Keyon Harrold in Marcus Garvey Park where the original festival was staged; and the 40th anniversary of Queens-based, women-run reggae label VP Records with Elephant Man, Junior Reid, Estelle, and Raging Fyah.
As always, New York’s own musicians and performers will be well represented at SummerStage. Opening night in Brooklyn’s Herbert Von King Park will feature Queens rapper Pharoahe Monch and Friends celebrating the 20th anniversary of their album, “Internal Affairs.” Brooklyn mega-hit rapper Young M.A will perform in her home borough in Betsy Head Park; Staten Island hip-hop heroes Force M.D.s play a hometown show in Corporal Thompson Park; one of hip-hop’s great storyteller’s, Bronx-born Slick Rick, joins forces with DJ Chuck Chillout, in Soundview Park; rising psych jazz rockers Crumb will be joined by fellow Brooklynites Phony Ppl in Manhattan’s East River Park; and La Sonora Ponceña, one of New York’s longest running salsa bands, will perform in Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheatre.
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, New York City’s annual salute to the eponymous late saxophonist, will return for five days of live jazz in the neighborhoods near where Parker worked and lived, including uptown in Harlem’s historic Marcus Garvey Park and downtown in Tompkins Square Park. Running August 20 through 25, the festival will feature partner events around the city, culminating with SummerStage performances from Michael Mwenso and the Shakes featuring Brianna Thomas, Vuyo Sotashe and special guest Fred Wesley; Dee Dee Bridgewater; Carl Allen’s Art Blakey Tribute; Ravi Coltrane; George Coleman Trio and many others.
“This season’s lineup is thoughtfully curated to celebrate community across all five boroughs by bringing distinctly New York artists to neighborhoods where they have personal history. The Festival also acts as a platform for global talent to perform for New Yorkers, and a place to see some of the most diverse and exciting talent around,” said Erika Elliott, Executive Artistic Director of City Parks Foundation.
The 2019 SummerStage festival will also feature benefit shows in Central Park to help support City Parks Foundation’s free performances. Confirmed shows to date include George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic’s Farewell Tour with Galactic, Fishbone, Dumpstaphunk; Thai-funk instrumental trio Khruangbin; lo-fi experimental rocker Kurt Vile and the Violators with Dinosaur Jr.; Australian singer-songwriter Tash Sultana; chart-topping alt-rock band Guster; Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard; Welsh indie-pop artist MARINA; British indie rock band Bloc Party; and legendary new wave icons The B-52s. More shows will be announced throughout the season. All benefit concerts are produced by The Bowery Presents.
SummerStage’s flagship venue in Central Park will reopen after undergoing a major, $5.5 million transformation that includes a new stage and sound system, enhanced lighting, new and raised seating areas, and improved dressing rooms and production spaces. In collaboration with West Elm, the Brooklyn-based global design company known for its original, modern designs, select areas of the venue will be expertly outfitted with furniture and décor from the brand’s new summer assortment. Concert-goers and performers will enjoy the highest standard of sustainably sourced products all summer long.
The complete SummerStage schedule follows below. For the most up-to-date scheduling and lineup for all SummerStage programming, follow SummerStage via the social media handles below and visit www.SummerStage.org for all festival information.
In all of its programming and activities, City Parks Foundation partners with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to improve neighborhood parks and the communities they serve.
Photo credit: 1) Whodini. 2) Big Daddy Kane. By Derrick Salters