Ari Lennox, J. Cole, and More Shut Down BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival’s Opening Night
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. Photographers: Walik Goshorn, Antoine DeBrill and Valerie Magan

Saturday marked the start of the 43rd annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the newly renamed Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park, featuring headliner Ari Lennox and a line-up that brought the energy we missed after a year of no in-person shows.

The festival continued its tradition of convening the Brooklyn community together by celebrating the culture, music and people that make the borough so special, by gracing over 9,000 attendees with entertaining openers who represented the ever-burgeoning Black talent coming out of New York City.

Queens’ own Nesta started off the evening sharing a fusion of R&B and his Jamaican heritage. Performing his smooth cover of Pharrell’s “Frontin’,” he engaged revelers with a call and response while singing his lead single “Already There,” and introduced new ears to “Str8 From The Heart,” “Why Not Love,” and more.

KAMAUU followed, placing a small area rug for him to be grounded on stage barefoot, while the audience began to stand on their feet, singing along to “Purl,” “Bamboo,” his unique cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” and swayed along to unreleased music. The Brooklynite closed out his set by bringing out the stunning bassist and vocalist Adeline, where they performed their collab track, “Mango.”

Ari Lennox took the stage with her backing band, donning a flesh-toned dress that glistened against the stage lights. The energy in the bandshell swelled as she sang pitch-perfect renditions of “Whipped Cream,” “Broke,” “New Apt,” “Facetime,” “BMO,” and more. She was all about the music and engaging her fans, with some making sure to throw her gifts and shower her with love and due props for her gift. Ari made sure not to leave without performing her hit “Shea Butter Baby,” surprising the audience with J. Cole, who rapped his verse on the track and continued to  praise Ari before hopping off the stage.

Opening night at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival was an evening we didn’t know we needed and was an indicator of what’s to come. The party continues at the bandshell through September, featuring the likes of The Roots, Wizkid, DJ D-Nice with special guests, Skip Marley, Mr. Eazi, Trombone Shorty, Junglepussy and more.
Dig into the photos from Saturday below, and find more information about upcoming performances here.

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