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Duke Energy Center and African American Cultural Festival Announce Partnership and Virtual Black History Month Program

The events will focus on bringing the community together while honoring African American culture and heritage.

Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County (AACF) announce their new annual partnership which will feature four co-produced events. The events will focus on bringing the community together while honoring African American culture and heritage.

"We're proud to continue to partner with the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County to celebrate African American heritage," said Michelle Bradley, Duke Energy Center's Interim Assistant GM.

The first of the four annual events featured "Raleigh's Inaugural Kwanzaa Celebration", which aired on January 1, 2021 and featured a moving Kwanzaa Ceremony, a special dance tribute to the late Baba Chuck Davis and other inspiring entertainment. The next upcoming event will be "A Celebration of Black History; Honoring Our Past, Inspiring Our Future" airing February 19 at 7pm on Raleigh Television Network (RTN) and the Duke Energy Center and AACF Facebook Pages.

The upcoming virtual celebration will include inspirational performances by country music recording artist, Rissi Palmer, who has made her mark in country music but is equally at home in R&B music, bringing the entire spectrum of popular music together in what she calls "Southern Soul". Palmer has had multiple songs hit the Billboard Country chart and has performed at The White House, Lincoln Center, and the Grand Ole Opry. As a passionate voice for country artists of color, Palmer also launched her own radio show, Color Me Country on Apple Music, where she showcases the lesser-known histories and music of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx country artists.

North Carolina based actor and playwright, Mike Wiley will also perform. Wiley has twenty years' credits in providing documentary theatre for young audiences plus film, television and regional theatre. Wiley's overriding goal is expanding cultural awareness for audiences of all ages through dynamic portrayals based on pivotal moments in African American history and, in doing so, helping to unveil a richer picture of the total American experience.

In addition, the North Carolina Symphony will perform "Red Clay & Mississippi Delta" by African American Composer, Valerie Coleman. Valerie Coleman earned degrees in flute performance and music composition from top U.S. music conservatories and in 1996, she founded Imani Winds, a wind. Today, Imani Winds is a Grammy-nominated ensemble that tours internationally, and Valerie Coleman is one of the world's most frequently performed living composers. Coleman was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, but her mother's family hails from the Mississippi Delta and through this piece of work, Coleman captures the essence the Delta region, her heritage, and Southern living.

Actor and singer Gerard M. Williams, dancer Wisdom Hayes, former Chair Wake County Board of Commissioners, Jessica Holmes, and singer Allen Brown will also deliver inspiring performances as part of the virtual celebration.

The Duke Energy Center also in celebration of Black History Month has brightly lit the columns of Raleigh Memorial Auditorium red, yellow, and green, which will stay on the entire month of February.

"Black History Month is an annual celebration of African Americans' achievements and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. The African American Cultural Festival is a product of the African American experience and looks forward to providing a fantastic program that celebrates our culture and inspires the public," said Grady Bussey, Chair of the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County.

Several other exciting events will be a part of this new partnership, including a panel discussion with local medical professionals to unpack and discuss the impact of the pandemic and the racial uprising on the mental and physical health of African Americans.

"The Hidden Crisis: Mental Health in Times of COVID in the African American Community" will include therapist and life coach Jason Phillips, Dr. Carmelita Swiner, and Dr. Erikka Dzirasa. The panel discussion will be moderated by Deborah Holt Noel, UNC-TV's host and producer of its popular shows, "North Carolina Weekend" and "Black Issues Forum" and will air on Raleigh Television Network (RTN) and the Duke Energy Center and AACF Facebook pages February 26 at 7pm.

Please check your local listings for channel details. For more information visit, www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com and www.aacfestival.org.


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