The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Harambee Festival returns this year with a strong lineup of local acts, including Tallahassee Nights Live, Kami Hayes & Vibe, the Raa Middle School Steelband, and the FAMU Jazz Ensemble and Combo.
“The Harambee Festival is an annual celebration that is a part of Florida A&M University’s commitment to “Unity in the Community.” This event is a highlight of our spring calendar. We look forward to welcoming one and all to Cascades Park and the Adderley Amphitheater for a day of entertainment and culture,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
Veteran Tallahassee broadcaster Joe Bullard will MC the 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. event at Cascades Park.
Robert Griffin said the FAMU Jazz Ensemble is noted for its diversity of style and its very capable musicians. The Jazz Ensemble is a jazz group with artistic and stylistic excellence. “The FAMU Jazz Combo will deliver a high-energy performance of contemporary jazz, R&B, and soul music with a funky groove,” added Griffin, associate professor of music and director of Jazz Studies/Trombone.
This year’s musical offerings will introduce some festival goers to the sound of the Raa Middle School Steelband directed by teacher William Sahley.
The band is in its 16th year and enrolls between 150 and 200 students each year. Sahley, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, is one of the only full-time middle school Steelband teachers in Florida.
Students follow the program from Beginning to Intermediate Steelband, and then finally, Advanced Steelband, one of Raa’s top-performing ensembles.
The Raa Advanced Steelband has been invited to perform at many events, including at Cascades Park, the North Florida Fair, Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium, as well as in Orlando and Palm Coast for special opportunities.
“Showcasing the sounds and vibes of Trinidad and the Caribbean, the students in the Raa Advanced Steelband are looking forward to performing at the Harambee festival,” Sahley said. “The music will have people jumping up and dancing, all while enjoying the beautiful playing of the steelpan.”
In addition to live music, the event will also feature booths from FAMU’s more than a dozen colleges and schools, food, arts and craft, jewelry, and clothing vendors. FAMU adjunct professor Cedrita Demus will lead Yoga classes at the festival beginning at noon and every 30 minutes until 4:40 p.m.