By Monique Nolan
Photos: George Whylie, Alaine Deleon, Images Newsletter.
R&B SUPER STAR R KELLY, REGGAE GREATS FREDDIE MCGREGOR, KEN BOOTHE, LEROY SIBBLES & REGGAE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONFIRM FOR GROOVIN 2017 ,
Groovin In the Park is scheduled for Sunday, June 25, 2017 at Roy Wilkins Park, Queens, New York. It features a star-studded lineup of international reggae singers including R&B superstar R KELLY, Reggae Greats FREDDIE MCGREGOR, KEN BOOTHE,DADDY U-ROY, TARRUS RILEY, LLOYD SPARKS & WE THE PEOPLE BAND LEROY SIBBLES & REGGAE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. More singers are expected to the lineup. It’s going to be some kind of summer in New York City. Groovin In the Park, the largest international Reggae and R&B festival will be even more exciting this year with the Lenox Road Baptist Church Mass Choir from Brooklyn, to perform a few songs with the Rocksteady era.
The tasty array of musical influences R. Kelly transforms and reinvents ranges through the history of classic soul. “Love Is,” “Share My Love” and “Lady Sunday” evoke the lush, danceable sound of Philadelphia. “Feeling Single” and “Believe That It’s So” effortlessly mash up echoes of Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. “All Rounds On Me” has a blues feel that Ray Charles would envy, while “Fool For You” has that classic Motown Sound. “Green Light” will make fans of the Isley Brothers happy, while “Party Jumpin’” captures the seriously fun late night spirit of a live Sam Cooke show. Both “When A Man Lies” and “Believe In Me” are powerhouse songs poised to join the canon of R. Kelly standards.
L-R: Ibo Cooper, formerly of Third World Band; Chris Roberts, CEO, Groovin In The Park; Leroy Sibbles; Ken Boothe; Freddie McGregor and Lloyd Parks at the NY launch of Groovin In The Park 2017
NY: In the early sixties, long before there was reggae, a haunting, captivating and blissfully bouncy beat called rock steady captured the imagination of music lovers on the island of Jamaica. This beat was an offspring of ska, and it first emerged from the belly of inner city of Kingston. It spread like wildfire, quickly dominating dance floors, parties, sessions and radio play from coast to coast and it was later exported to the rest of the world. The dominant instruments in this hypnotic new wave were the bass and the drums. A chorus of ‘rude boys’ emerged who chanted their message of protest against a harsh police and justice system, and the end product was a body of some of Jamaica’s most alluring and unforgettable anthems ever- the Rock Steady collection.
This year, Groovin’ In The Park, New York City’s premier reggae and R&B summer concert will celebrate the magic of the Rocksteady era, but with a twist. A number of iconic proponents of the genre- hit machine Freddie McGregor, chart topper Ken Boothe and music magician Leroy Sibbles with Lloyd Parks and We The People Band will grace the hallowed stage of Groovin In The Park. But this powerful galaxy of stars will be supported by a jaw-dropping orchestra called GITPRO, (Groovin’ In The Park Reggae Symphony Orchestra).
GITPRO will saturate Roy Wilkins Park in Queens with the sweet sounds of violins, violas, cellos and a harp, plus a choir. Reggae industry insiders are describing the celestial sounds for Groovin’ as a first for outdoor reggae events. The 17-man orchestral ensemble will be directed by Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, former member of the critically acclaimed Third World band and music educator/ lecturer at the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.
Another important feature of this year’s Groovin In The Park festival is that the acts that will pay tribute to the Rocksteady era will each get an opportunity to perform a few songs with the Lenox Road Baptist Church Mass Choir from Brooklyn.
“We are tremendously excited about the new energies that this groundbreaking orchestra and Brooklyn mass choir will bring to an already superlative show, and we have no doubt that this initiative will raise the bar for reggae concerts in and around New York City”, Chris Roberts, founder and executive director of Groovin’ In The Park said.
The 2017 installment of Groovin In The Park was officially launched at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queens, NY. In attendance were Freddie McGregor, who will anchor the Reggae/Rocksteady package, Ibo Cooper, formerly of Third World Band; Leroy Sibbles; Ken Boothe, Lloyd Parks and members of the Lenox Road Baptist Church Mass Choir.
Groovin’ In The Park takes place on Sunday June 25 and the gates open at 12 noon. For more, go to www.groovininthepark.com