Washington D.C.'s best concert of the year is only weeks away and will be completely free of charge. The lineup of musical performers and other participants has finally been announced for the "Freedom Sounds" festival, a celebration of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The music starts on Saturday, September 24 at 6 p.m. with Public Enemy, Living Color and The Roots.
Another evening concert will follow on Sunday evening at 6 p.m., featuring D.C.'s native Go-Go pioneers Experience Unlimited (EU), Me'Shell Ndegeocello, and one more special guest who has yet to be announced.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the opening ceremony on Saturday morning at 10. They will be joined by former President George W. Bush (who signed the 2003 bill which created the Museum) and Laura Bush. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Congressman John Lewis, Smithsonian Director David Skorton and museum director Lonnie Bunch will also be in attendance. The President will deliver the keynote address.
In addition to the evening concerts, smaller performances will take place throughout the festival from 12 to 5 p.m. on Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Activities will include music and dance performances, spoken word and oral histories.
Participants include the Stax Music Academy, Len Chandler, Josh White Jr., Dom Flemons, Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Original Liberty Jazz Band, Medoune Gueye, Jean Carne, the McIntosh County Shouters, Bobi Cespedes, Paito y los Gaiteros de Punta Brava, Morgan State University Choir, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Freedom Singers, Sonia Sanchez, Robert Randolph, Sweet Honey in the Rock, 9th Wonder, Stanley Clarke, Louise Toppin, the National Hand Dance Association, the National Association of Black Storytellers Inc. and Urban Artistry. A full schedule of events will be available on the museum's website.
Bag checks will be required to enter festival grounds. Weapons may not be carried into the festival and umbrellas will not be permitted for Saturday's opening ceremonies, regardless of weather. Entrances to the festival on the Washington Monument grounds are at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. and 17th Street S.W. near Independence Avenue.
To tour the new museum, free timed entry passes are required in order to prevent overcrowding. Passes can be obtained through the museum's website for the coming months, but are no longer available for the opening weekend.