It’s a year of change for Concert of Colors, but plenty of vibrant traditions will be intact and thriving as the world-music fest and diversity celebration marks its 27th year.
Despite a behind-the-scenes financial scramble during the winter, the event is expanding by adding several days to the schedule and playing 10 stages at nine sites in Midtown. The fest is scheduled to kick off Wednesday night with several performances in the courtyard at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, including a set by young R&B singer Johnyce.
Much of the action this year is moving to spots in and around the Detroit Institute of Arts, which came aboard this year as a major partner. Organizers say the new Concert of Colors footprint will offer a more efficient and walkable experience for fest-goers.
Here’s some of what to know about the latest installment of CoC:
• All events are free. Alongside the eclectic assortment of musical performances, they include a Thursday forum dubbed “Community, Culture & Race: The Power of Owning Our Voices,” which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.
A Motown panel and workshop hosted by the Motown Museum’s Raina Baker will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre.
Dr. Dele Jegede will speak at the DIA at noon Sunday on the tradition of African masquerades.
Note: A planned birthday gala for Martha Reeves — to have been the festival’s only ticketed event — was canceled.
• The music is diverse, global and Detroit-flavored. As always, Concert of Colors’ bread and butter is its lively, genre-spanning music lineup, which has increasingly featured homegrown performers amid styles that range from Arab electro music to African folk.
Hot names at the 2019 fest include veteran Jamaican reggae band Third World (8 p.m. Sunday, DFT), the fast-rising Jordanian-Palestinian group 47 Soul (5:30 p.m. Sunday, DFT) and jazzy Michigan electronic producer Shigeto (7 p.m. Sunday, Rivera Court at the DIA).
• Don Was will lead his Detroit All-Star Revue for an 11th year, this time spotlighting the music of Motown as the homegrown label marks its 60th anniversary. Was will lead his usual house band of top-shelf players — musicians such as Luis Resto, Dave McMurray and Brian (Roscoe) White — with a lineup of singers that includes Melvin Davis, Ty Stone and Mitch Ryder, along with Motown originals Martha Reeves, the Velvelettes and Carolyn Crawford. Funk Brothers alum Dennis Coffey will also guest on guitar.
WDET-FM’s Ann Delisi is back in the hosting role as the All-Star Revue lands at its new home in the DFT at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Like other CoC events, the revue is free, but it’s typically a hot item and entry is first come, first served.
• Making his Detroit debut is exiled Egyptian artist Ramy Essam, whose rock music became a soundtrack for demonstrations in Egypt during the Arab Spring of 2011. Essam’s songs were subsequently banned in his homeland, and he has spent the past several years living in Europe.
He’ll perform at 3 p.m. Saturday on the DFT main stage.
• Electric-guitar processionals will fill the halls of the DIA, Detroit Historical Museum and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History — along with surrounding streets — courtesy of experimental musician Patrick Grant’s Tilted Axes project. Friday’s mobile-music extravaganza will run 5-8 p.m.
Tilted Axes will also drop into the Michigan Science Center at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.
• The festival lineup includes several film screenings, including the latest showing of the work-in-progress documentary “God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines,” chronicling the history of Detroit techno. The film will screen at 1 and 4 p.m. Friday at the Detroit Historical Museum.
Also on tap is the much-lauded “Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami” (7 p.m. Tuesday, DFT), and “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes,” a history of the fabled jazz label. Was, the Detroit-born Blue Note president, will introduce the film when it screens at 7 p.m. Monday at the DFT.
Concert of Colors
Venues and stages in Midtown Detroit, including the Detroit Institute of Arts
Full schedule: http://concertofcolors.com/events/