Juneteenth Celebration at MAC Brings Good Vibes

In honor of Juneteenth, Freedom Day, the Middletown Art Center joined with several Lake County musicians, performers, and chefs this past weekend to celebrate the newly established national holiday. The evening’s events began in the back studio of the MAC as an intimate group of guests listened to an on-stage conversation between Clovice Lewis, musician, composer, and educator who shared his story of music, race, and social justice with host Sabrina Klein. Lewis graciously expressed his love for playing the cello and the genre he coined “Jazzical,” jazz and classical style combinations, both of which were major influences in his past. He also discussed and shared parts of the musical “Harlem Voices,”  which he wrote and composed. Harlem Voices addresses themes of racial violence, love, family, and systemic oppression and the role music plays to uplift and unite a community.

During intermission, an authentic Kenyan meal was served to hungry customers who waited in a quickly formed line that circled through the gallery and out the door. Chef Feswali Mulanda, a member of the Middletown community, shared a few of his family’s favorite dishes.  As dinner sold out within the hour, wine bottles were uncorked, and the opening act took center stage. Several local drummers, including Middletown’s own Victor Hall, began beating their drums, pounding in powerful patterns of upbeat rhythm as Djibril Camara, master West African dancer from Guinea, took stage in costume with dancers to accompany the drummer’s cadence. The vibrations of rhythm and movement swept through the crowd and filled the space, connecting the community with a powerful musical performance.

As the evening wore on, the crowd moved outside for more musical acts. Clovice Lewis MC’d the event discussing the true meaning of Juneteenth and the hard work ahead to irradicate systemic racism. Lewis said, “but let us remember, we must roll up our sleeves tomorrow and get back to the hard work of justice and equality in this great nation of ours. We have a dream, let’s go out there and fight for it.” As the crowd cheered, Lewis welcomed singer Gloria Scott of Lake County to the stage, who led the crowd in a call-and-response, singing songs of gratitude, glory and unity. As the crowd echoed Gloria’s verses, harmony and happiness could be heard reverberating off the hillsides of Middletown. Following Gloria, the main act Midnight Sun Massive Band took to the stage as the sun began to set. The eight-piece band filled the night air with sounds of eclectic, upbeat, Island-inspired tunes that gave way for a fantastic dance party that bonded our small community.  

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