Music

Three Miami experiences celebrate Juneteenth with music, art and a juke-joint party

Written By Clayton Gutzmore
June 13, 2022 at 2:59 PM

J’Von Brown, Vanya Allen, Jasmine Williams, Thando Mamba, Gentry George, Miriam King, Shanna Woods and Troy Davis of Hued Songs at last year’s “Juneteenth Experience” performance. (Photo courtesy of Passion Ward)

Juneteenth became America’s newest national holiday in 2021 when legislation was signed into law making June 19 a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.  While there are a number of celebrations throughout South Florida, here are three events in Miami planned to celebrate Black voices through arts.

Kunya C. Rowley, founder and artistic director of Hued Songs, a Miami-based collective which celebrates Black culture through artistic experiences that are rooted in music, says that “this day of Juneteenth is an important one. We are celebrating Black joy and liberation on a day that represents freedom.” Hued Songs hosts its second annual “Juneteenth Experience” at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, on Sunday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m. with the procession and show beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is free, but registration is required.

The “Juneteenth Experience” is a multidisciplinary immersive performance featuring song, dance, spoken word, and animation. The show’s mission, according to Rowley, is to honor Juneteenth’s past, present, and future. Rowley wants to captivate and inspire the audience with what they will see on stage.

Kunya Rowley is the founder and artistic director of Hued Songs. (Photo courtesy of Osiris Ramirez)

“I hope folks walk away from the show thinking about what we can do every day to push for liberty and equality in Black and brown communities,” says Rowley.

The cast of the “Experience” is composed of local performers. Ace Anderson, Shanna Woods, Vanya Allen, and Miriam King are some of the talents that star in the show. Michelle Grant-Murray is the choreographer with musical direction by Wilkie Ferguson III.

Rowley explains that the show is intentionally collaborative.

“Many times, we ask artists to think about what they would like to contribute as part of the process. We are always considering how we want the performing artists to be able to bring their full selves into the process. Some of them wrote material that will be in the show, and some of the artists are performing pieces they created,” says Rowley.

In this year’s Hued Songs, animation by Izia Lindsay, a Trinidad visual artist, will give a sense of the location of where different parts of the show take place, according to Rowley.

Anthony Reed II, also known as Mojo, creates his site-specific mural for Juneteenth. (Photo courtesy of Mojo Visuals, LLC)

An interactive art project meant to tell unfamiliar stories of individuals and sites significant to Miami’s hidden Black history is the Miami Museum of  Contemporary Art of African Diaspora’s (Miami MoCAAD)  and Hampton Art Lovers’ celebration of Juneteenth.  “Veo Veo, I See I See, Mwen wè Mwen wè” features a site-specific mural created by Anthony Reed II, who is artistically known as Mojo. His work will be at the late Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center, located at 1021 NW 2nd Avenue in Miami. Thomas was Miami-Dade County’s first Black Judge.

“We want people to know about him. Not only is the building like a perfect canvas for a mural, but Lawson E. Thomas is a Black man that achieved the unachievable at a particular time in Miami. We hope people will want to learn more about some of the great individuals that came out of those accounts,” said Donnamarie Baptiste, curator of  “Veo Veo, I See I See, Mwen wè Mwen wè.”

A QR code will be embedded in the mural that showcases the artist’s work and features an interactive 3-D model of the artist, along with an interactive treasure hunt game and other experiences.

There are a host of activities planned around the launch of the mural. On Friday, June 17, doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the event that starts at the Ward Rooming House, 249 NW 9th St., Miami. At 6 p.m., MoCAAD continues its Creative Conversation series discussing the mural and oral history project, which celebrates Black Miami history. At 7:30 p.m., attendees will be among the first to experience “Veo Veo, I See I See, Mwen wè Mwen wè” at the Courthouse Center, 1021 NW 2nd Ave., Miami.

Miami R&B performer LaVie will take the audience on a journey through the rich history of Black music at the Juneteenth Joint Join at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo courtesy of the artist’s management)

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Center is recreating the vibe of a juke joint with the idea of creating a space for celebrating America’s second Independence Day. Bridget Stegall, programming manager at the performing arts center,  promises that “people have never seen the Arsht Center put together anything like this.”

The inaugural Juneteenth Juke Joint will be Thursday, June 16 starting at 7 p.m. inside the Peacock Foundation Studio. Juke Joint is part of the center’s Heritage Project series to “promote social equality and amplify Black voices,” according to the Arsht.

The inspiration for the Juke Joint came from the backwoods, roadside establishments, which were run and supported by Black people in the years after slavery ended.

“The Juke Joint is going to be an experience through our music and Black history. When people arrive, I want them to leave the stress of life at the door and step away educated from what they saw,” says LaVie, Miami R&B singer, who will be performing at the event.

WHAT: Hued Songs “Juneteenth Experience,” Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of African Diaspora “Veo Veo, I See, I See, Mwen wè Mwen wè,” and The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts “Juneteenth Juke Joint.”

WHERE: Hued Songs at North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; Miami MoCAAD, Ward Rooming House, 249 NW 9th St., Miami and Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center, 175 NW First Ave., Miami; Juneteenth Juke Joint, Peacock Foundation Studio at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

TICKETS: Hued Songs and MoCAAD events free admission. Registration required for Hued Songs and registration required for MoCAAD, which also includes livestream. Juneteenth Juke Joint tickets start at $25 to $200.

INFORMATION: huedsongs.org/juneteenth, MoCAAD, and arshtcenter.org

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