The pulse of a beating heart, echoing from the city’s core, vibrating through the streets – that’s the rhythm of Afro Nation 2023!
This past weekend Detroiters and visitors from all over could literally feel the heartbeat of the Motor City. That’s not just the rhythm of the cars or the hustle and bustle; it’s the drumbeat of Afro Nation, coming alive in Detroit, the heart of black excellence. Now why, you may ask, did this international spectacle decide on Detroit, of all places? Because Detroit is not just any city. It’s the world’s blackest city, a beacon of resilience, strength, and cultural richness. And where better to host it than the Brewster Douglas project site? This historic location, once the epitome of black ambition and dreams, has transformed into a festival ground pouring in tens of thousands of souls celebrating black love, black culture, black joy, and black artistry.
The Brewster Projects, formally known as the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, stand as a significant emblem in Detroit’s rich history. Notably recognized as the first public housing development constructed exclusively for African-Americans, these projects became more than just a collection of buildings; they became a breeding ground for talent, aspiration, and dreams. It’s no coincidence that this enclave of inspiration fostered Motown legends like Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Smokey Robinson. These iconic figures, who later danced their way into the archives of music history, were nurtured and molded with the soil of Brewster. Their stories and rise to stardom serve as a testament to the immense talent that burgeoned in these very housing units, showcasing how, from humble beginnings, world-renowned legends can emerge.
Today, the soil has showcased that the heart of the legends still resides. Imagine, as you step onto this hallowed ground, you’re immediately greeted by a tapestry of colors, fabrics, and styles that echo back to our roots. From the vivacious yellows, deep greens, and bold reds of the African flags to the intricate patterns of ankara and kente cloths, the festival-goers weren’t just dressed to impress; they were adorned in the history of the Mother Land.
As day one’s sun spread that golden embrace, the lineup hit right to the core, and everyone in the D was vibing to those soulful beats and pure vibes. Rising straight from the heart of Detroit, eastside’s own Dej Loaf turned up the city thermostat. Then there’s Latto, oozing with ‘that girl’ energy that’s impossible to ignore. Ari Lennox graced us with those rich, soulful tunes, and who could overlook Burna Boy? Man, he took that Detroit stage like the afrobeat king he is! Embodying the heart and soul of Afro Nation, he had everyone vibing to his beat, wrapping up the show and leaving us all immersed in the genuine essence of Afrobeat. He wasn’t just performing; he was the festival personified.
And as if one stage wasn’t enough, Afro Nation gifted us with two! While the main stage showcased the undeniable trailblazers of the mainstream and Afro music scene, the secondary stage introduced us to fresh, emerging talent that kept the energy and spirit high. An exquisite blend of Afrobeats, Hip Hop, RnB, Dancehall, Amapiano, Afro House, and more – every genre found its voice, every artist their stage, and every attendee their rhythm.
For those who sought a more exclusive experience, the VIP sections, the prestigious Golden Circle, and the posh Leopard Lounge provided an elevated vantage point, ensuring every beat, note, and lyric was adorned.
From the true essence of Detroit to the rhythmic heartbeats of the motherland, a unified vibe resonated among the masses. Everywhere you looked, souls were free-flowing, dancing, and melding into one harmonious rhythm. The air was thick, not with tension, but with an energy of unity and celebration. It was as if an invisible thread of Afro Nation spirit wove through each individual, wrapping them in a blanket of pure bliss and unfiltered joy.
But let’s not forget – this was just day one.
Afro Nation Detroit 2023 wasn’t just a festival; it was a renaissance. A reminder of where we come from, the unity in our diversity, and the power of black excellence. So, Detroit, we’ve shown the world once again why our city, our culture, and our people are unparalleled. We danced, we laughed, and we celebrated. For Detroit and Afro Nation created more than just memories; they sculpted history. Here’s to the culture, the music, the unity, and the undeniable power of BLACK MAGIC! And trust me, this is just the beginning.
By: Andre Ash, Digital Anchor
Following Saturday’s performances from the likes of Latto “being ripped out the plastic”, Sunday brought no shortage of RnB and African artist who graced the stages.
From Masego who pierced the air with the smooth sounds of his saxophone to pop sensation Coi Leray who brought her flair and flavor to the city.
From afternoon, evening, and night, attendees filled the streets of downtown Detroit as they walked toward the Bedrock Douglas field. Guests were greeted with sunny skies and pure summer heat, while welcomed by vibrating sounds of music that kept everyone moving to the beat.
From Cleveland, Ohio to Montreal and Toronto, Canada and from France to Nigeria, people from across the country and around the world landed in the heart and home of Motown for the largest Afro beats festival in the nation.
In front of both stages, there would be a sea of people from as far as the eye could see. An international togetherness of people singing, dancing, clapping with their arms and hands in the air.
The crowd fell in love with Libianca, one of the artists who took to the stage, Sunday. Ever since her 2021 appearance on NBC’s The Voice, she has continued to gain and build her loyal following, even winning Viewer’s Choice for Best New International Act during the 2023 BET Awards.
“To have my own set representing us, it’s such a joyful feeling,” Libianca says in a one-on-one interview with Michigan Chronicle. “Being up there, it’s a real thing. I don’t only see people who look like me, …the crowd is diverse.”
It’s a surreal experience for the 22-year-old American Cameroonian singer who reaches 20 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Libianca says she had been following Afro Nation for years and at times would visit as an attendee. Now she’s in front of attendees with the afro beats breakout hit, ‘People’, which has become an international sensation.
“It’s all been crazy, but also believable because my GOD does big things and I expect him to do big things,” she said.
As crowds were captivated by her performance, what can her growing fanbase come to expect moving forward? Certainly, not the same thing, as she explained.
“Don’t ever think that when you’re coming to listen to one of my songs, that it’s going to sound like the last. Destroy that right now,” she said. “One thing I can tell you that will be the same – every single track is soul.”
Just as every track is infused with soul, Afro Nation 2023 saturated Detroit with pure soulful essence. The city’s spirit was overflowing.