The Roots headline an all-star Welcome America Show
Four-time Grammy award-winning band The Roots will headline Philly's Fourth of July Jam during Wawa Welcome America! The band and their Musical Director ?uestlove will be performing their set as well as sets with special guests Earth, Wind and Fire, Michael McDonald, Estelle, Sara Bareilles, DJ Jazzy Jeff and more on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The concert will also include a special tribute to the 40th Anniversary of Gamble and Huff's iconic Philadelphia International Records, "The Sound of Philadelphia."
"Philly's Fourth of July Jam is one of the many reasons why Philadelphia is the place to be to celebrate July Fourth," said Mayor Nutter. "There truly is a musical act for everyone, and a few surprises are even in store. You don't want to miss this concert, on the last and biggest night of Wawa Welcome America!"
The all-star cast of musicians will perform nearly every genre of music from R&B and hip hop to rock and funk for the largest free concert in America, followed by a spectacular fireworks show, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a dramatic backdrop.
Musical Director ?uestlove states, "We are excited to help put together such a great show! Philly's a natural fit for the Fourth of July concert– The Fourth of July on the Parkway should be what New Year's Eve in Times Square is to New York."
Additional big-name entertainment is scheduled throughout Wawa Welcome America!, June 24 – July 4, 2011. Popular jazz and blues musicians, including Aaron Neville and Gerald Veasley, will take the stage at Penn's Landing during Taste of Philadelphia, the Festival's signature culinary event June 24 – June 26. And, starting off the amazing Festival is a showcase concert at The Dell Music Center in Fairmount Park featuring Nancy Wilson. It takes place on Thursday, June 23 and is a ticketed event. Taste of Philadelphia kicks off Wawa Welcome America!, Philadelphia's free 11-day July 4th Festival, with a weekend of culinary favorites and all-star entertainment June 24-26 at Penn's Landing, Chestnut Street and Columbus Boulevard.
This year's Taste of Philadelphia is even bigger and better than ever before, as the Festival footprint is expanded two blocks over the Chestnut Street bridge to Front Street. Philly's famous Food Trucks, a new and innovative addition to the event, will set up shop along the bridge, including favorites La Marqueza, Insomnia and Dapper Dog and treats Call Me Cupcakes and Sweet Box.
Also, a second stage for entertainment, in addition to the RiverStage, will be introduced this year on the corner of Chestnut and Front Streets. Throughout the weekend, this Old City Stage will feature a DJ playing world music, and notable Philadelphia chefs from Cuba Libre, Sampan and Feast Your Eyes will showcase cooking demonstrations.
"We are thrilled to expand Taste of Philadelphia in all categories – entertainment, food and location," said Melanie Johnson, city representative and executive director of Wawa Welcome America!. "We anticipate people will be very impressed with the wide variety of top-notch artists and delicious dishes set to delight people of all ages throughout the entire weekend."
New participants this year include Chenango, Tiffin, Stella Jeannes, Kuzina by Sophia, Feast Your Eyes, Marabella Meatball Company, Gigi Restaurant and Innovative Catering Concepts. Additional restaurants include Jamaican Jerk Hut, Keatings River Grill, Darlings Diner, Hard Rock Café, Auntie Anne's Pretzels and Irish Ice.
Another new twist this year is the enhancement of music genres, with jazz, blues, Latin jazz, gospel and world music now in the mix. Friday night's line-up includes Philadelphia's own Gerald Veasley; he will round out opening night at 7:30 PM with jazz favorites performed under the stars after a performance by the Philadelphia Freedom Jazz Orchestra.
During the day on Saturday, find a seat along the waterfront and enjoy performances by acclaimed and local musicians such as the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz, Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, Toy Soldier, Deb Callahan, Brass Heaven featuring Jeff Bradshaw and Venissa Santi with special guest Eva Cortes. Also, at 3 PM, the finalists of the Wawa Welcome America! Singer/songwriter Competition will showcase their talents and compete to impress the judges on the RiverStage.
Then, on Saturday, June 25 at 8 PM, singer and songwriter Somi will open the evening's concert with her acoustic, culture-merging elegance. She has recorded songs in English and three East African languages. Headliner and hitmaker Aaron Neville then rocks the stage with his famous combination of rhythm and blues, followed by a fireworks extravaganza over the Delaware River — the first of three fireworks displays during Wawa Welcome America!.
Taste of Philadelphia concludes on Sunday, June 26, dishing out more savory flavors and sounds Philadelphia is known for. Local gospel choirs, jazz musicians and blues bands will perform including Frank Bey and the Swing City Blues Band, Delton Walker, the Sounds of Life Choir and Zak Williams and One Akord. Ending on a high note, James "JJ" Hairston and Youthful Praise, the inspired pen and iconic sound that introduced such gospel hits as "Awesome God" and "Incredible God, Incredible Praise," will headline the concert at 6 p.m. on the RiverStage.
The world-class entertainment and admission to Penn's Landing is free, with bite-sized "tastes" just a few dollars. Taste of Philadelphia takes place Friday, June 24, from 5 PM to 9 PM; Saturday, June 25, from 11 AM to 10 PM and Sunday, June 26, from 11 AM to 7 PM.
People of all ages are invited to experience Wawa Welcome America!, the City of Philadelphia's free July 4th Festival, from June 24 to July 4, 2011. With 11 days of free patriotic fun and pageantry including a full-scale parade, fireworks, history, live entertainment, the largest free outdoor concert in America, food, culture and pageantry, there is something for the whole family's taste. For more Wawa Welcome America! event information, visit www.welcomeamerica.com.
Wawa Welcome America! is a multi-day festival that celebrates America's birthday in America's birthplace, Philadelphia, and is produced by Welcome America, Inc. For more information, please visit www.welcomeamerica.com.
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