The Capital One City Park’s Foundation Summerstage 2021 kicked off its season in Central Park with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on June 17th, followed by a pre-screening of the documentary Summer of Soul in Marcus Garvey Park on June 19th.
Check out this years SummerStage Season Brochure, ~ a bit pared-down, but with concerts, film screenings and performances in four parks including Ramsey Playfield Central Park, Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, and the Coney Island Amphitheater along the boardwalk. Check out a fabulous lineup.
“We are so thrilled to bring SummerStage back for all New Yorkers to enjoy in-person, outside, in parks again this summer. The artists performing this summer represent a true sense of resiliency in their own art and deep connection to New York City,” said Erika Elliott, Executive Artistic Director of SummerStage. “While we continued to present artists of all genres for the past year with SummerStage Anywhere digitally, we are eager to provide artists the platform to perform to a live audience and to bring communities together to enjoy the live, spirited experience that is truly unique to our city and festival.”
Now in its 12th year, the Met Opera Summer Recital will take place on Sunday, August 8th in Central Park.
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, SummerStage’s annual salute to the eponymous late saxophonist, will return for its 29th year with a weekend of live jazz in Harlem’s historic Marcus Garvey Park/Richard Rodgers Amphitheater. Running August 28 and 29, the festival will feature Jazziz Magazine’s 2007 Person of the Year, Donald Harrison and his quartet, performing “Charlie Parker with Strings” along with The Harlem Symphony Orchestra, on August 28, highlighting the historic visibility and contributions of African American orchestral instrumentalists. On August 29, the Charlie Parker Centennial Celebration with music direction by leading drummer Willie Jones III in association with Jazz at Lincoln Center will feature an international and inter-generational lineup celebrating the global impact of Charlie Parker: Nicaraguan-born American jazz pianist and music composer Donald Vega; up-and-coming bassist Endea Owens, who won Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist award in 2019; Manhattan-born veteran alto saxophonist Justin Robinson; Japan-born, New York-based prodigy saxophonist Erena Terakubo; Harlem-born and Haitian-raised alto saxophonist Godwin Louis and NY-based up-and-coming, vibrant saxophonist Sarah Hanahan.
Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage in partnership with iStar will also return to the Seaside Park Community Arts Center & the Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn this summer for six free concerts. Grammy-award-winning disco hitmaker Gloria Gaynor will be performing on July 17 with Harlem-via-East London selector DJ Stormin Norman, who brought mix shows to daytime radio in the 90’s on WBLS. Puerto Rican singer/songwriter and Latin Grammy Award-winner La India will take the stage on July 18 with a soon to-be-announced DJ. Before Celia Cruz would dub her the “Princess of Salsa,” La India got her start in the South Bronx, where she was a founding member of the Latin Freestyle group TKA. Multi-platinum R&B artist Ginuwine with special guests will celebrate legendary hip-hop DJ Funk Flex’s birthday on August 7. An icon in the hip-hop community, Flex started his DJ career at sixteen in NYC nightclubs and now spins weekly for over 8,000 club-goers. On August 29, a special performance of INVINCIBLE: A Glorious tribute to Michael Jackson will take over the Coney Island stage. Hailed as the #1 Michael Jackson tribute show in the world, it features the world’s most authentic Jackson impersonators. The Bronx’s own, DJ KS 360, will be on hand to kick off the event. More SummerStage at the Coney Island Amphitheater shows will be announced at a later date.
Benefit concerts include Machine Gun Kelly, Dawes, Lake Street Dive, Indigo Girls with Ani DiFranco and Blue Note at SummerStage featuring George Clinton, Chris Botti and Galactic.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Parsons Dance, A.I.M, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with special guest Madison McFerrin, and Soles of Duende with guest artist Asha Griffith. On July 31, New York DJ legends The Originals will make their triumphant return to SummerStage with a joyous dance party celebration. The formidable collective of true New York tastemakers has dominated the nightlife scene for over 30 years.
SummerStage is partnering with Rooftop Films for a free drive-in film and live performance at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens on June 24 in association with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr.. A free screening of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA)-winning Indian comedy-drama Monsoon Wedding, will follow a special live performance from GRAMMY-nominated, internationally recognized artist Falu, known for her modern inventive style and her formidable, classically-shaped vocal talent. Falu is currently an artist-in-residence at Carnegie Hall. SummerStage is also partnering with Rooftop Films to feature short films prior to Central Park shows this season. Rooftop Films will curate programs of new short films from around the world, featuring the work of filmmakers whose voices and stories complement the featured musical performers and represent the vibrant international communities of our city. The screenings will include official selections from Rooftop Films’ 25th anniversary Summer Series, the nation’s largest outdoor showcase for new independent films. Films will be announced at a later date.
SummerStage in Central Park will also host several paid benefit performances this season. Blue Note at SummerStage will present three shows, each with two seatings, a matinee and an evening show. On June 20, GRAMMY award-winning trumpeter Chris Botti, a musician known for his blended jazz-pop sound, will kick off the series. Funk icon George Clinton will return to SummerStage with his collective Parliament Funkadelic on June 27 and jazz-funk New Orleans-based jam band Galactic will be joined by Tank and the Bangas’ vocalist Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph and special guest MonoNeon on July 11. The Bowery Presents benefit shows will include hip-hop/rap-rocker Machine Gun Kelly on September 13, Boston-based pop, rock, R&B, and jazz group Lake Street Dive on August 24, folk-rock band Dawes on September 17, and folk-rock co-bill Indigo Girls with Ani DiFranco on September 21 with more to be announced. Tickets must be purchased in advance for all benefit performances and are on sale now at SummerStage.org.
All in-person performances will be live-streamed on SummerStageanywhere.org. with artist approval and rights permitting.
“The last year has been enormously difficult for our city, but New York City’s parks have provided needed respite. Now, our parks will help us re-engage with one another, generating the unique energy that is sparked only by experiencing live performance collectively,” said Heather Lubov, City Parks Foundation’s Executive Director. “This year’s SummerStage line-up reflects our city’s tenacity and spirit, its vibrancy and creativity. We are thrilled to be back.”
As a women-run festival with a mission of diversity and inclusion, since 2019 SummerStage has helped to transform the future of the music industry by participating in the PRS Foundation’s international Keychange pledge, presenting an annual lineup that features a 50:50 gender balance. SummerStage is one of the few local festivals that has achieved this goal.
This year’s SummerStage season artwork is illustrated by Lyne Lucien. An award-winning Haitian artist based in Brooklyn, Lucien is an American Illustration Award Winner and a finalist for the Artbridge – Not a Monolith Residency. She has worked as a photo editor and art director at various publications including New York Magazine, The Daily Beast and Architectural Digest. Her drawings are rooted in community engagement and are influenced by the detals she noticed around her in the US and Haitian cities where she lived as a youngster. The complexities of color, form, and texture she uses in this year’s SummerStage design articulate the vivacity and diversity of NYC.
Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage is New York’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival. All Summerstage concerts are free and DO NOT require advance tickets. In addition, SummerStage will be enacting safety protocols with masks required inside the venues.