Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival adds new headliner

By Paul Thompson

Northeast News

April 14, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The 18th and Vine District will be hosting the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival on Memorial Day weekend (May 26-28), and a host of recognizable artists – including a back-to-back Grammy winner – will be headlining the multi-day event.

On the evening of Thursday, April 13, organizers announced that soul singer Lalah Hathaway would be serving as the headliner for the festival. Hathaway won Grammy Awards this year for Best R&B Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance, and also won a Grammy in 2016 for Best Traditional R&B Performance. She will take the Paseo Boulevard Main Stage on May 26, serving as the festival’s opening act. Kansas City area product Janelle Monáe had initially been announced as a headliner, though the announcement proved premature as Monáe subsequently withdrew herself from consideration.

Formerly known as Kansas City’s 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival, a one-day music showcase, this year’s incarnation has been re-branded as a three-day live music event featuring both national and local artists. Those set to appear include Grammy winners John Scofield and Brandy, MacArthur Fellowship grant awardee Regina Carter, The Hot Sardines, and many more. Weekend panel discussions will also be conducted throughout the weekend with cast members from TV shows Empire and Love and Hip Hop.

The festival will include several stages featuring a variety of musical genres, such as pop, R&B, blues, traditional and contemporary jazz, and more. According to organizers, upwards of 80% of the artists performing at the festival are from Kansas City or the surrounding region, part of a stated mission to focus on Kansas City’s rich musical heritage.

“We want the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival to be the premier live music festival in the mid-west, celebrating Kansas City’s role as one of the key pillars of Jazz in the nation and honoring the great and talented musicians in and from our wonderful city,” said Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum, in a press release announcing the festival. “It is not a festival just to have a festival. It’s a festival to build pride in who we are as Kansas City and our role in the heritage of jazz in the nation and the world.”

Tickets to get into the main stage begin at $25, and single-day tickets, weekend passes, and VIP passes can be purchased at kcjazzfest.com. Children between the ages of 2-12 will get in free, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Side stages can also be accessed free of charge to attendees of all ages, along with a kids zone and a marketplace highlighting African American and Kansas City vendors. To learn more, go to kcjazzfest.com.

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