For the second consecutive year, The Roots, Philadelphia’s Grammy-winning hip-hop heavyweights, will host the annual Fourth of July concert on Ben Franklin Parkway, with iconic drummer/DJ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson serving as musical director.
This year’s diverse lineup will feature Grammy-winning rapper/actress Queen Latifah, hit-maker Daryl Hall of the top-selling duo Hall & Oates, hip-hop artist/actor Common, and pop sensation Joe Jonas.
“We are excited to help put together such a great show! Philly’s a natural fit for the Fourth of July Concert,” says Questlove. “The Fourth of July on the Parkway should be what New Year’s Eve in Times Square is to New York.”
Once again, 6abc will broadcast the Independence Day festivities live, beginning at 10 a.m. with the “Celebration of Freedom Ceremony.” Taking place on the steps of Independence Hall, this “patriotic and inspiring” morning featuring music, speeches and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, will pay tribute to the history of our great nation.
At 11 a.m., the station will begin live coverage of the “Philadelphia Independence Day Parade” as it travels through historic Philadelphia. With marching bands, floats and more than 5,000 participants, this year’s parade features a “Heroes Salute” honoring the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 – The United States Military, veterans, firefighters and police officers.
The evening’s festivities, airing live on 6abc from the Ben Franklin Parkway, begin at 7 p.m. with “A Special July 4th Edition of FYI Philly,” hosted by Karen Rogers and Adam Joseph. The highly anticipated “4th of July Jam” starring The Roots begins at 7:30.
The Roots, who regularly add their funky flavor as the “house band” for NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” threw an awesome party in 2011, hosting Earth, Wind & Fire, Estelle, Michael McDonald, Sarah Bareilles and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
This year’s musical celebration, which concludes with the traditional Grand Finale Fireworks, will also feature performances by surprise guest artists, and last summer Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eddie Levert of the O’Jays stopped by to join the party.
“We know that what really makes it magical are the acts that we didn’t announce yet, so we have about three or four surprise artists that we’re not even going to advertise,” says “Questlove” Thompson. “So when you see them there, it’s going to be that much more magical.”
“Wawa Welcome America! will offer you and your family high-quality, free and most importantly, fun entertainment to celebrate America’s birthday with us,” says Mayor Michael Nutter. For complete information on Wawa Welcome America! visit www.welcomeamerica.com.
Every Philadelphian already knows that the best place to celebrate America’s birthday is right here, in America’s birthplace. The annual Wawa Welcome America! Festival comes back next month with 10 patriotic days of family-friendly and free activities through Independence Day. This week-long, only-in-Philadelphia party kicks off on June 24 and culminates July 4 with a parade through Historic Philadelphia and a mega concert with Grammy Award-winning artists, complete with fireworks, at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This year’s musical director for the festival is Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, the headline drummer of Philly’s own neo-soul super group, The Roots.
Mayor Michael Nutter recently annouced this year’s Philly Fourth of July Jam will be literally “star”-spangled with some of the brightest and boldest talent on the national music scene descending on Philadelphia to offer an unparalleled entertainment experience.
“In Philadelphia, we save the best for last — an our festival grand finale is ‘The Largest Free Concert in America,’ the Philly 4th of July Jam,” said Nutter. “This year, we’ll welcome back Philadelphia’s own The Roots, to take the stage as the official house band for the Philly 4th of July Jam. They will be joined by an impressive array of some of the brightest and boldest musicians in the country, including Queen Latifah, Daryl Hall, Common, Joe Jonas and other special guests. The concert will end with a bang — literally — as fireworks illuminate the sky over one of the world’s architectural gems, the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”
Wawa Welcome America! — the nation’s largest, free 4th of July festival — runs from June 25 to July 4, 2012. For more information, go to welcomeamerica.com or call (215) 683-2200.
His journey toward understanding — expressed in his music and now in his roles in film and television — is rooted in his relationship with his mother, Mahalia Ann Hines.
When Common entered the scene in 1992 with his album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?,” the new, mostly underground artist found himself thrust into a music environment where game-changing albums such as Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” Ice Cube’s “The Predator” and Eric B. & Rakim’s “Don’t Sweat The Technique” blazed trails in hip hop.
It would have been easy for Common to disappear into the history books of hip-hop like may other artists of that time (and he admits that he almost quit rapping after his debut).
After all, the competition was stiff.
Yet, Common still stands today, not only as an accomplished and award-winning recording artist, but also as a leading man who has also co-starred alongside thespians as Denzel Washington (“American Gangster”), Queen Latifah (“Just Wright”), Christian Bale (“Terminator Salvation”), Ray Liotta (“Smokin’ Aces”), Steve Carrell, Tina Fey and Mark Wahlburg (“Date Night”).
Despite his vast accomplishments as an artist, however, very little is known about the man. The gripping and introspective memoir “One Day It’ll All Make Sense (Atria, $15)” reveals the story behind the man and his art. Common shares never-before-told stories about his encounters with everyone from Tupac to Biggie, Ice Cube to Lauryn Hill, Barack Obama to Nelson Mandela.
Drawing upon his own lyrics for inspiration, he invites the reader to go behind the spotlight to see him as he really is — not just as Common, but as Lonnie Rashid Lynn.
The artist holds nothing back as he unveils himself, layer by layer, from his childhood on the streets of the South Side of Chicago; to grappling with the decision to leave college, disappointing his mother and pursuing a career in hip hop; to emerging as a talented recording artist faced with all the trappings of fame and success but working hard to remain true to himself and the people who’d supported him along the way.
“People who know me as Common might find it hard to believe some of the things that made me Rashid,” explains Common. “That’s partly why I’ve written this book, so that I can show myself as a man in full. That means telling some tough truths, revealing my faults and vulnerabilities. But it also means showing the true strength of my character.”
He recounts his rise to stardom, giving a behind-the-scenes look into the recording studios, concerts, movie sets, and after-parties of a hip-hop celebrity and movie star. He reflects on his controversial invitation to perform at the White House, a story that grabbed international headlines. And he talks about the challenges of balancing fame, love and fatherhood.
Each chapter begins with a letter from Common addressed to an important person in his life — from his daughter to his close friend and collaborator Kanye West and even from his former love, Erykah Badu. Through it all, Common emerges as a man in full: Rapper. Actor. Activist. But also father, son and friend.
“As Common, I’ve often been classified as a conscious artist,” he reflects. “I take that as a compliment. The only problem with being labeled a conscious artist is that people assume that's all you are, that you’re not also a complex and flawed individual. I made a conscious decision early in my career to focus on growth and positivity. In my own life, I still deal with the negativity sometimes, but I don’t choose to reflect that in the art I put out into the world. I strive to be a conscious artist because I strive to be a balanced human being on my path towards the light.”
Common’s story offers a living example of how, no matter what you’ve gone through, one day it’ll all make sense.
NEW YORK — The history of slavery in America is a history of resistance, rebellion. Yet, movies and TV do not always showcase those themes.
That's one reason why the rapper Common is excited about AMC's new series, "Hell on Wheels," a Western that chronicles the building of the transcontinental railroad.
Common plays mixed-raced former slave Elam Ferguson, who works on the rail system. Portraying a slave, he says, is a big deal, particularly because his character defies the stereotypes often seen in films and television.
"A lot of times we've seen slaves obviously going through so much pain and trouble, they were oppressed and downtrodden, so it was more of a lower position. (My character) has been through a lot of things, but is holding his head up high and his shoulders are up strong," says Common, who was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.
At first, Common says he wasn't interested in a TV role, but then his agent suggested he read the script for "Hell on Wheels." Common says it's the first time he has played a character so complex.
The Grammy-winning entertainer researched by reading about African slaves of the 19th century and visiting former plantations in South. He calls his journey "deep" and "heavy."
"I feel blessed that I'm able to represent what a black man, what a black person was at that time," he says, "but it definitely was some weight and some pain."
One experience in filming the show, though, was really difficult for Common: when white cast members used the N-word.
"Even if you try to think that they're acting, it still just doesn't feel right," he says. "You get that feeling like, 'Man, this is not good.'"
The series, which airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET, was filmed in Canada. It centers on Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a former Confederate soldier and slaveholder who is avenging the death of his wife. Bonhannon set his slaves free a year before the Civil War. He takes a job overseeing the workers on the transcontinental railroad, which includes Elam Ferguson (Common).
Common, who appeared in "Smokin' Aces," ''American Gangster" and "Terminator Salvation," and does a voice in "Happy Feet Two," says the show focuses on issues that still exist in today's world.
"Things that we try to hide and put under the table, things that we act like, 'Oh no, that's not how I feel' — some of that is still there from hundreds of years back. It's still in us and we've got to remove it," he says. "Along with it just being entertaining and being fresh — it's an important show." -- (AP)