Review: A Jubilant 'Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom' at the Hollywood Bowl

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday June 21, 2022

The "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom" at the Hollywood Bowl
The "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom" at the Hollywood Bowl  (Source:Hollywood Bowl/Timothy Norris)

Celebrating Juneteenth has never been more jubilant than with the Hollywood Bowl's first-ever Juneteenth concert, featuring a plethora of Black artists old and new.

The "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom" was a fast-moving all-star concert that also included special appearances in person and virtually by the likes of Michelle Obama, V.P. Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, Gabourey Sibide, Michael Ealy, Leslie Jones, and Raven-Symone. 

Musical guests spanned decades, with "Earth, Wind, and Fire" dominating the final half-hour of the broadcast, which opened with another icon, Chaka Kahn. From the '90s the crowd went wild for Bel Biv DeVoe, who proved that age is just a number as they bopped with ease around the stage, performing a medley of their hits.

Newer faces also took the stage, including Lucky Daye, who dazzled with his electric stage presence and, in a nice nod, wished everyone not only a Happy Juneteenth, but a "Happy Pride," too. Country music artist Mickey Guyton dazzled with her song "Black Like Me," proving the genre isn't just for honky-tonk white folks.

 

Billy Porter brought everyone to their feet, giving one of the liveliest performances of the night with their single "Children." Adorned in a symmetrical gown, they were backed by dancers who gave the audience a definite mood as Porter set the Bowl stage on fire. 

 

Similarly, The Roots, Ne-Yo, Mary Mary, and Michelle Williams all gave fire, bringing the sold-out crowd to moments of pure exhilaration. Every artist was backed by the Re-Collective Orchestra, which marked the first appearance of an all-Black symphony orchestra onstage at the Hollywood Bowl.

It was a night to be remembered, and the audience — mostly POC — got to be in the presence of legends and community, marking one of the most important days in U.S. history. It was a night of festivity, full of smiles and laughter and unmistakably joyful energy that was contagious. 

 

For information on upcoming events, the Hollywood Bowl website. 

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.