Bone Thugs-n-Harmony headlines Freedom Fest June 17 in Springdale

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony headlines Freedom Fest June 17 in Springdale

As Freedom Festival grows larger, so does Music Moves.

In addition to an even bigger Freedom Festival in downtown Springdale this year, the nonprofit is pursuing its mission to “to make Black music accessible to students and to our communities through performance and education,” says Anthony Ball, vice president of Music Moves.

“This was such a hard year to book because last year went so well,” Ball says of the Juneteenth event. “We kind of took people by storm last year with Montell Williams and Morris Day and The Time. Now people are looking forward to us throwing a Juneteenth celebration.”

This year’s headliners represent a diverse lineup of Black music from funk, to gospel, to hip-hop and so much in between.

“We got Bone Thugs-n-Harmony,” Ball says. “We got the Ohio Players, which is the old school ’70s band that were right there with Earth Wind and Fire and Parliament. I’m really excited to have them and Young Joc. He’s a huge personality. He had some big No. 1 songs in the early 2000s.”

Ball adds that there will be gospel music from Lisa Knowles & The Brown Singers of Memphis, and local favorite Funk Factory will perform.

Families can expect to move with the Ohio Players’ “Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster,” and when “It’s Goin’ Down” with rappers Young Joc and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, the language will get salty.

INTERFORM will present a runway show with “Project Runway” finalist Korto Momolu this year as part of the Juneteenth celebrations outside their door on Emma Avenue.

“She’s an Arkansas native — and she’s representing us on an international stage,” Ball says. “I’m excited to have her as a part of Freedom Festival, too.”

Returning this year are the health and wellness booths, fun for the kids — including bounce houses — and local vendors.

“Crystal Bridges are one of the partners, they will have [artmaking spots] set up — painting, drawings, and they’ll be featuring some artists,” Ball goes on. “

“The setup of the Freedom Festival is pretty much the same,” he says. “We’re a little bit larger this year. Last year, we had about 3-3,600 people this year, we’re expecting to have about 5,000 people. Last year, we had the largest Juneteenth celebration in the state, [so] we’re trying to ride that wave.”

He says that last year’s celebration brought in people from as far away as Little Rock, Tulsa and Fort Smith.

Part of the success of the festival depends on the organizations that Music Moves partners with, he says.

“INTERFORM is our partner this year. We’re also partnering with the University of Arkansas Juneteenth Committee and the Community Cohesion Project,” he says. “We always give acknowledgments to the Walton and Tyson family foundations. They continue this year and partner with us to make sure the event stays free.”

Music Moves is making plans for another celebration next month for their new venue, The Music Depot in Rogers.

The venue will serve not only the performers sharing their music in the space, but it will provide a space for young musicians to “cut their teeth” and grow their skill sets while learning about the contribution of Black musicians and composers to American music.

“We want it to be a community space where we can do music performances, but in the daytime, we’ll put on classes, workshops, clinics with students, and the surrounding Northwest Arkansas area,” Ball says. “We want to have a space where we can continue to teach our curriculum. We’ll host artists’ residencies in that space. So we’re really excited about it.”

He says the grand opening is scheduled for July 7 with the Hamiltones, who requested to perform.

“We’ve brought the Hamiltones here twice. They’ve been to to The Meteor in downtown Bentonville, and they’ve been to George’s [Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville],” Ball says.

“When we announced that we were having this space, they called us and [said] ‘Hey, we want to come, and we want to bless the spot. We don’t care how big or how small it is, we want to come and be a part of it. And it was the coolest thing that I’ve kind of been a part of, as a talent buyer, show producer. I’ve never had artists reach out in that sense, but they loved our mission statement and our community so much that they want to be a part of the opening.”


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Juneteenth Is Jumpin’

Freedom Festival bigger, more diverse this year

Anthony Ball


Freedom Festival

WHAT — Freedom Festival, with music, food, vendors and a kids’ zone, is presented in partnership with Music Moves, INTERFORM, NWA CCP, and The NWA Juneteenth Committee.

WHEN — 1-9 p.m. June 17

WHERE — Shiloh Square in downtown Springdale

COST — Free


FYI — Also coming up for Music Moves will be the Jazz and Blues Block Party at Railyard Live Aug. 4-5 with Abstract Citizens, Dawn Cate Band, King Cabbage, Michael Fields Jr., Jimmy Bratcher, Young Joo Song Trio, Jeremy Thomas Quartet, and Austin Farnam Trio.

Categories: Family Friendly