There were fraught moments during the past year when Ismael Ahmed feared that Concert of Colors might not return in 2019. Amid financial peril, the eclectic music festival he founded was on the brink of disappearing after three decades as a unique fixture on Detroit’s summer calendar.
Instead — thanks to a red-alert, all-hands-on-deck effort from a host of Detroit arts and culture institutions — Concert of Colors will roll out in July with the most extensive lineup of venues, partners and events in its 27 years.
“We’re poorer, and we’re bigger,” Ahmed said after a Thursday news media event at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which will become the festival’s new home base.
The free Concert of Colors is expanding to eight days — July 10-18 — with 10 stages in nine venues within Midtown’s Cultural Center Historic District. They include the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre, which will host signature CoC events such as the Detroit All-Star Revue led by Don Was, who will enlist his ace house band and homegrown performers such as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Mitch Ryder, the Velvelettes and Melvin Davis for a night of Motown 60th anniversary music on July 13.
More: See full lineup for Concert of Colors (PDF)
Concert of Colors has made its name through the years with its world-music offerings, and performances this year will range from Nigerian Yoruba music (Toby Foyeh, July 13) to Jamaican reggae-fusion (Third World, July 14). Exiled musician Ramy Essam, whose hard rock was banned in his Egyptian homeland, will perform on July 13 and participate in a July 11 free-speech forum at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.