Highly Anticipated Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival Returns for its 7th Year
Press Release :: June 22
Thanks to lead sponsor South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, The Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI) in partnership with the Cherry Hill Community Coalition and the Cherry Hill Family Congress will host the 7th Annual Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival at Middle Branch Park (Middle Branch Park, 3301 Waterview Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230) on July 4 from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.—celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop with the international flavor of British female hip-hop legend Monie Love. The festival is free, family friendly, alcohol free and open to the public. The event will be held rain or shine.
Festival goers can enjoy old favorites with new offerings, including live music, food trucks, exhibits, vendors, and a fireworks show overlooking the Patapsco River. A diverse lineup of performers will take the stage this year, representing a wide spectrum of sounds from soul to gospel to reggae, and beyond. International Grammy Award-winning Reggae Legend Mykal Rose (The voice of Black Uhuru) will headline the festival. Other artists include Baltimore Club pioneer Mighty Mark, Jazz Master Carl Grubbs, International Soul/Jazz artist Navasha Daya, Gospel group REIGN and a host of artists from the DMV region. Actor and syndicated radio host Marcellus “The Bassman” Shepard will host the festival.
The Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival is a Black-led-and-founded- festival that was launched seven years ago to connect and collaborate with Cherry Hill residents as they imagine and realize arts and culture in their historic community.
The theme of this year’s Festival is “Healing through the Arts.” Through a partnership with The Black Mental Health Alliance, festival organizers will connect festival goers with culturally responsive mental health resources on the day of the festival. The Youth Resiliency Institute will launch three important art- based projects on the day of the festival.
“We See Your Light” is a project that honors, acknowledges, and celebrates the beautiful humanity shining bright in individuals affected by addiction in so many ways: those we’ve lost whom we love; those living with addiction every hard day;
those who have found recovery and now are giving back to community with all they can.
“Community Safety Photo Voice” is a project that empowers Cherry Hill residents to observe and record issues about community safety in Cherry Hill through community- based photography experiences.
“Cherry Hill Charm Vol. 1” is an album of original music and historic interludes featuring elders in Cherry Hill sharing their lived experiences as lifelong residents of one of America’s most historic Black communities.
“The annual Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront festival creatively activates Middle Branch Park not only on July 4th, but throughout the year, through yearlong Youth Resiliency Institute arts-based programming that helps to address racist histories that have curtailed African Americans’ access to public parks,” said Navasha Daya, Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival co- director. “Each year, we curate the festival with legendary artists who share our stage with emerging artists. We are proud to present artists who are innovative, socially conscious and align with the values of our festival – Culture, Community and Family.”
The history of the development of public housing on the Middle Branch is one of the most striking examples of deliberate residential racial segregation in any city. Cherry Hill was an isolated peninsula adjacent to a city landfill and incinerator and later developed as a community for GI’s returning from WWII and Korea. This location was selected after several other options were opposed by whites who did not want African Americans moving too close to their neighborhoods. Recognizing that the plight of Black artists from high poverty communities often becomes stuck in narratives focused on stereotypes and negative statistics, the Youth Resiliency Institute works in collaboration with artists of all ages in Cherry Hill to create culturally affirming spaces that validate residents’ identities.
The festival was co-founded by current Cherry Hill resident, great grandmother and playwright Mama Shirley Foulks and Youth Resiliency Institute executive director and cultural arts organizer, Fanon Hill.
“The Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival continues to be an accessible waterfront crown jewel in South Baltimore,” said Shirley Foulks, Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival co-director. “Since its inception, Cherry Hill festival organizers have worked especially hard to ensure that the festival is free for everyone every year. This year, with so many people now struggling as a result of pandemic economic safety nets now gone, we are extremely humbled to be able to once again offer a high-quality free arts and culture experience in Middle Branch Park, in partnership with our lead sponsor South Baltimore Gateway Partnership and additional sponsors and partners.”
This year, through a special partnership with African Ancestry, Mama Shirley and a surprise Cherry Hill resident will have their African ancestries ceremonially unveiled during the festival. Founded in 2003 by Dr. Rick Kittles and Gina Paige, African Ancestry is the world leader in tracing maternal and paternal lineages of African descent. With the industry’s largest and most comprehensive database of over 30,000 indigenous African DNA samples, African Ancestry determines specific countries and specific ethnic groups of origin. African Ancestry is committed to providing a unique service to the black community by working daily to improve the cultural, emotional, physical, spiritual, and economic wellbeing of people across the African Diaspora. The ceremonial ancestry unveiling will kick- off a countdown to a special trip from “Historic Cherry Hill” to “Historic Ghana” organized by the Youth Resiliency Institute. A cross-generational “Lom Nava” delegation from Cherry Hill will travel to Ghana, west Africa late July 2023 and engage with Ghanaian artists and learn about African- centered models of preserving and showcasing art, history and culture that break from western models. Furthermore, members of the delegation will learn about Ghana’s Volta River restoration and conservation best practices and how they may benefit Patapsco River conservation efforts. In the process, the delegation will advance the rich and valued tradition of cultural, economic, and intellectual exchange between Ghanaians and African Americans.
“Middle Branch Park, which is the site of the annual Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival, is more than a place- it is a refuge,” said Fanon Hill, Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival, co-founder. “The flow of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River connects the past, present, and future while beautifully reminding Festival organizers of the power of freedom and restoration. As sure as the Patapsco River drains to the Baltimore Harbor area, then to the Chesapeake Bay and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean; the Cherry Hill “Lom Nava” delegation will fly over the Atlantic Ocean and greet the Patapsco River from the shores of Ghana- the same shores our African ancestors stood on before the Middle Passage.”
Visit cherryhillfest.com for more information.