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DETROIT – Thirteen isn’t an unlucky number for Detroit’s annual Concert of Colors. In fact, year 13 of the free three-day diversity and music festival is slated to be bigger than ever, with an opening night at the Max M. Fisher Music Center and a lineup of over 30 different acts from around the world, including lesbian folk rocker Catie Curtis.
Each year, ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Service) and New Detroit collaborate on the Concert of Colors to build relationships and understanding through music. “It’s important for our community to build ties with the greater Detroit area,” said Ismael Ahmed, executive director of ACCESS. “Concert of Colors brings in musical acts from around the world, and celebrating diverse heritages through music is a great way to bring people together.”
Concert of Colors returns to Motown July 15-17, 2005. Opening night on Friday will take place at the Max M. Fisher Music Center with performances on two stages featuring Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster, Zimbabwean crooner Oliver Mtukudzi & Black Spirits, Brazilian ensemble Bossa Cuca Nova, Roots Vibration, and Afrobeat newcomers Nomo.
Another Friday night act at the Max will be the Sounds of China and Beyond, featuring members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. They will be joined for a piece by members of the Dearborn Traditional Arab Music Ensemble.
On Saturday and Sunday the festival will take place at Chene Park on the Detroit riverfront with music on three stages.
Performers on Saturday include Cheb Khaled joined by Detroit musician/producer Don Was and Friends. This 21-member ensemble will include Elan Attias, lead singer for the Wailers, whose resume includes a duet with Gwen Stefani on a cover of Roxy Music’s “Slave To Love.”
One act the LGBT community won’t want to miss Saturday is Boston-based artist Catie Curtis, who will be performing at 3 p.m. on the Diversity Stage in Chene Park. Curtis, who once lived in Ann Arbor, is looking forward to the festival.
When asked why she was asked to play the festival, Curtis said, “I think they had a desire to bring in a woman to sort of round out the whole diversity angle.” Last year Ani Difranco played on the same stage during the festival.
“What I do is sort of contemporary singer-songwriter stuff that’s kind of based in roots music because I play acoustic guitar,” Curtis said.
Curtis, no stranger to Michigan stages, has played at The Ark in Ann Arbor numerous times, the Magic Bag in Ferndale and the 1999 Lilith Fair.
“I have found that the audiences around Ann Arbor and Detroit seem to be really hip to the acoustic music scene,” she said. “I’ve found that people seem to really know me when I get there, which is great, and I’ve really enjoyed playing there in the past.”
The Concert of Colors will be a new experience for Curtis. “I’m really excited to play it, not only from the standpoint of the performer but also from the standpoint of an audience,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to checking out the festival’s other acts. “I think it’s going to be a great event. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Other Saturday highlights include reggae superstar Maxi Priest, the California Guitar Trio, Detroit favorites the Dirtbombs and “Putumayo Presents Mali,” a double bill featuring Tinariwen and Ramatou Diakite.
Highlights from Sunday’s performances include the Neville Brothers, Latino rockers Ozomatli, The Del McCoury Band, Senegalese hip-hop trio Daara J, and Funkadesi.
The Diversity stage on Sunday will feature national blues artist Larry McCray, Louisiana’s Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas, Orquesta “La Inspiracion,” Blackman & Arnold, and Eastern Winds.
The Rhythm Stage at Chene Park will include a diverse array of drummers and dancers.
“We’re proud to be in our 13th year bringing together diverse communities throughout southeastern Michigan to present world culture in an exciting, respectful, and entertaining way,” said Daniel Piepszowski, vice president of New Detroit.
In addition to the music, the festivities will include ethnic food booths, multi-cultural arts and crafts vendors, and a children’s activity area.