Birmingham Heritage Festival
Founded by Larry Allen, in part as an alternative to City Stages, the festival has featured African-American styles of music such as rhythm and blues, jazz, reggae, gospel, soul, urban pop, hip-hop and rap. It is currently produced by the non-profit Birmingham Heritage Festival, Inc. which aims to promote appreciation of Birmingham's cultural heritage during the annual event and through special programs and scholarships funded by the festival's earnings.
When the festival went idle in 2004, the Southern Heritage Festival appeared to take up the slack. A reborn Birmingham Heritage Festival was planned for August 2009 under the auspices of Ascension Event Management, but was ultimately canceled shortly before the event.
The 2009 festival was scheduled for August 14-16, but was canceled on Tuesday August 11 after organizers failed to raise enough money to proceed. Scheduled performers had included Joe, Avant, Musiq Soulchild, Keyshia Cole, Angie Stone, Chaka Khan, Flo Rida, and Atlantic Starr.
The 2004 festival was canceled after the Jefferson County Commission withdrew its support due to the booking of controversial rap artist Twista.
The 13th annual festival featured a "Hip-Hop Summit" organized by Russell Simmons's Hip-Hop Summit Action Network with panel discussions on voter registration, music industry careers, personal and business finance and community economic development.
Headlining performers at the festival included Baby, Juvenile, Lil' Wayne, T.Q., Reverend Run, Floetry, David Banner, Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boys, Big Tymers, Zapp Band, Lil' Flip. Other acts included Livin' Witness.
The 2001 festival was reduced to three music stages and a poetry stage. Performers included the Isley Brothers, Spyro Gyra, Dave Hollister, Lisa & the Elusions, Musiq Soulchild, UGK, and Koko Taylor.
The festival also sponsored an independently-ticketed concert by R. Kelly at Boutwell Auditorium. Weekend passes to the festival were $30; daily tickets were $15; and tickets to the R. Kelly show were $35.
Performers included the D.S.B. and Livin' Witness
The 1998 festival featured Mary J. Blige. Her performance, long delayed after Chico DeBarge failed to appear, was itself cut short.
The 1993 event was marred when Naughty By Nature refused to take the stage without cash payment of their fee. Birmingham News columnist Shawn Ryan was critical of the events' organizers. Allen blamed bad press for poor attendance.
The first festival took place at Sloss Furnaces.
- Jones, Marie A. (August 2001) "11th Annual Birmingham Heritage Festival." Birmingham News
- Geiss, Chuck (May 20, 2004) "Naked Birmingham" Black & White
- Bryant, Joseph D. & Mary Colurso (August 11, 2009) "Birmingham Heritage Festival canceled." Birmingham News
- Birmingham Heritage Festival website