(NEWARK, NJ) – Newark will be filled with music again this summer as NJPAC’s popular free outdoor concert series, Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City, returns with personal appearances at the Chambers Plaza des Arts Center starting July 15.

Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue Dance Party opens the seven-week series that introduces a variety of musicians and genres, including hip-hop legends Eric B. & Rakim, salsa star Tony Vega, and reggae headliners Third World and the gospel song stress Le ‘Andria Johnson.

The concerts are presented using a range of new safety protocols so that viewers can enjoy the music, mixing, and dancing that made this annual event so popular, while keeping the Arts Center’s visitors, artists, and staff healthy.

Sounds of the City returns to Newark this summer

“Sounds of the City is a legacy series in Newark. It’s been the way the city has been celebrating summer for more than 20 years, ”said David Rodriguez, Executive Vice President and Executive Producer of NJPAC.

“This year we’re not only celebrating the season, we’re also celebrating the return of live performances to Newark. We want to make sure that these events are not only fun but also safe. “

Horizon Foundation Sounds of City concerts, an NJPAC tradition, have brought thousands of revelers to the Chambers Plaza des Arts Center for free concerts on Thursday evenings every Thursday and August evening. Last year, when the NJPAC campus was closed during the coronavirus pandemic, the Arts Center turned the series into a weekly live DJ dance party that was streamed on Facebook.

“While we at NJPAC are all incredibly proud of the range of virtual events we’ve had over the past year, we know there’s nothing like the energy and excitement of a live performance,” said John Schreiber, Arts Center President and CEO.

“We can’t wait to personally welcome our audiences back to NJPAC, especially this wonderful show, which has always been a joyful way for us to connect with and celebrate our Greater Newark community.”

Reggae, R&B, hip-hop and salsa music will all be part of this year’s series, which includes recurring favorites as well as exciting new artists for the audience. The concerts take place on Thursdays from July 15th to August 26th.

HORIZON FOUNDATION SOUNDS OF THE CITY 2021 – All concerts take place on Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Chambers Plaza in front of the NJPAC theaters.

July 15th – Felix Hernandez ” Rhythm Revue Dance Party ”. NJPAC welcomes Feliz Hernandez, a loyal contributor to the Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City, with his popular live version of the metro’s first and longest-running radio show dedicated to the spinning of classic soul and R&B. DJ Felix Hernandez and his “Rhythm Revue” were broadcast by WBGO Jazz 88.3FM, WBLS-FM, 98.7 KISS-FM and Sirius XM.

July 22nd – Eric B. & Rakim. The hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim from the Golden Age exploded for the first time in 1986 with the release of the legendary album “Eric B. is President”. Their classic album Paid in Full, full of fun and soul-driven tracks, was named MTV’s Greatest Hip-Hop Album of All Time, and Eric B. & Rakim have been dubbed “The Most Influential DJ / MC Combo in Contemporary Pop Music”. After a decade-long separation, the two got back together and returned on tour in 2017.

July 29 – Syleena Johnson. Grammy-nominated R&B singer-songwriter Syleena Johnson, daughter of legendary blues and soul singer Syl Johnson, combines classic soul and R&B styles with a uniquely sultry voice. The Chicago-based singer has worked with everyone from Kanye West and Common to Anthony Hamilton. Her 11th studio album, Woman, was released in 2020.

August 5th – Tony Vega. Born in Salinas, Puerto Rico, salsa master Vegas grew up in New York City, where he began his musical career as a bongo player in a children’s band. He soon began singing and drumming, performing alongside salsa stars Gilberto Santa Rosa, Eddie Palmieri, and Tito Puente before going freelance and recording several hit albums, including Yo me Quedo and Lo Mio es Amor.

August 12 – Le’Andria Johnson. Grammy-winning gospel singer-songwriter Johnson was the third season winner of the BET gospel singing contest show Sunday Best. Her first album, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson, not only resulted in her Grammy win for Best Gospel / Contemporary Christian Music Performance, but also to a career on the stage, continued pastor service, and an appearance on the hit Oxygen series Preachers of Atlanta.

August 19 – brass against. Brass Against, a New York-based collective of dozen of artists under the direction of Brad Hammonds, is dedicated to creating political songs that inspire fans to action. Brass Against has recreated hits from Tool, Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine and more with an oversized horn section and fiery vocals, redefined protest music, built a huge online fan base and created a whole new sound for telling the truth to power.

August 26th – Third World. The grand finale of the Sounds of the City 2021 season is a performance by one of the longest-running reggae bands of all time, Third World. The Third World style, which combines reggae with elements of R&B, funk, pop, rock, dancehall and rap, has been called “reggae fusion”. With nine Grammy nominations and a catalog of hit charts including “Now That We Found Love,” “96 Degrees in the Shade,” and “Try Jah Love,” the band toured six continents, performing with Bob Marley, and Santana Stevie Wonder among many others.

This year, with New Jersey residents following health guidelines and falling COVID-19 transmission rates, the series will return as a live outdoor event with several new safety measures including:

* Concerts take place in a closed outdoor area. Capacity within the enclosure is severely constrained to ensure that participants are able to stay socially distant, with a two-meter gap between each group.

* Access to the concert area is subject to availability.

* All concert goers must be masked throughout the event.

* The temperature of the participants is checked (with non-contact thermometers) at the entrance gate of the concert area.

* All attendees must complete a questionnaire on NJPAC’s health screening app before they can access the concert area.

* Hand disinfection stations will be placed across the plaza.

Food and drinks can be purchased in specially designated areas where users are allowed to remove masks. Bags and rucksacks are not permitted in the concert area.

The series’ title sponsor, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, is the nonprofit arm of the Newark-based Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

“We all know that part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is relaxing, socializing, and getting up – and there’s no better way to do all of those things than at a concert by the Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City switch to music. We’re so glad this series is part of how Newark is enjoying the summer season again, and we’re all committed to making sure everyone can safely attend this fantastic event, ”said Gary D. St. Hilaire, President and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ.

The Horizon Foundation’s Sounds of the City concert series is made possible by a special collaboration between NJPAC, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the generous sponsors RWJBarnabas Health and Mars Wrigley.

New Jersey’s Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, is a taxable, nonprofit healthcare provider offering a wide range of medical, dental, visual and prescription insurance products and services. Horizon BCBSNJ is leading the reshaping of health care in New Jersey by working with physicians and hospitals to deliver innovative, patient-centric programs that reward the quality, not the quantity, of care for patients. Learn more at HorizonBlue.com. Horizon BCBSNJ is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, serving approximately 3.7 million members.

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) on One Center Street in downtown Newark, NJ, is America’s most diverse performing arts center and New Jersey’s artistic, cultural, educational, and civic hub that hosts great performances and events improve and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all, and showcasing the best artists in the state and world while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its hometown. NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and art enthusiasts with its extensive art education programs. NJPAC has attracted 10 million visitors (including more than 1.8 million children) since it opened in 1997 and has meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

originally published: 05/14/2021