Newark Celebration 350 Founders Weekend Festival, a FREE outdoor jubilee in Military Park headlined by superstars, Faith Evans, Naughty by Nature, India & Robert Glasper Experiment [Event]

Newark Celebration 350 Founders Weekend Festival

By Jack Barnes

For its bicentennial in 1866, the City of Newark hosted a grand parade and “receptions.” A century later, on May 18, Founders Day was heralded by a cacophony of factory whistles and church bells.


With Newark’s 350th anniversary upon us, several of the city’s famed institutions will continue the city’s grand tradition of celebrations in full regalia with citywide events toasting one of America’s oldest metropolis’s cultural contributions, community and citizenry.  Newark Celebration 350 Founders Weekend Festival is the centerpiece of NC 350, a year-long salute to the incorporation in 1666 of one of America’s greatest cities. The young, elder and in-between generations of Newark and citizens from all over the metropolitan area are invited to gather in historic, 147-year-old Military Park (opposite New Jersey Performing Arts Center) from Friday, Saturdayand Sunday May 13-15 for a party like no other. Anyone who wants to wave the banner for community pride is invited – free!

Appearing on the mainstage is a constellation of international recording artists and GRAMMY® Award winners and nominees, some of whom claim Newark roots: hometown heroes, Faith Evans and Naughty By Nature with “Princess of Salsa” India, the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note jazz ensemble with special guest Stefon Harrispresented by the Institute of Jazz at Rutgers University and Cissy Houston with the Jubilation gospel choir. Recently added to the lineup is Robert Glasper Experiment, the critically acclaimed breakthrough artist known for his Grammy award winning album Black Radio, who will perform on the main stage on Saturday before Naughty by Nature.

“This will be my band’s first time playing in Newark. Can’t wait!!! It’s an honor to open for such an iconic hip hop group!!” said Robert Glasper.

A dynamic lineup of locally-based talent includes the Brick City Soul Collective, Angela Johnson, Random Test Reggae Band, Rob Paparozzi and his jazz combo, and the gifted young musicians of Jazz House Kidsand New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Brick City Jazz Orchestra and Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens. Emceeing the shows will be Newark’s own Darnell “J.D.” Williams (HBO’s The Wire and Oz), Newark rapper and former member of Buster Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad Rah Digga and radio/TV personality Cherry Martinezwith New Jersey’s hottest celebrity DJs, WBGO’s Felix Hernandez, Hot 97’s Bobby Trends and Power 105.1’s DJ Reymo closing out each night at the turntables. The Newark Celebration Youth Showcase stage will feature author and WBGO personality Sheila Anderson serving as emcee and amazing talents of tomorrow including teen vocalist Alexis Morrast and her trio, the esteemed, 47-year-old Newark Boys Chorus, and Them Cloud Kids, a multidisciplinary performance art ensemble.

This free fabulous weekend of music and entertainment starts Friday, May 13 from 6 to 10:30 p.m. and continues on two stages, Saturday, May 14 from 1 to 10:30 p.m., and concluding Sunday, May 15 from 1 to 8 p.m. Festivities take place rain or shine. Full schedule and areas of activity below.

Leaders across Newark—public, private, and nonprofit—will gather on May 14 to celebrate the intersection of art, commerce, and community vibrancy and well-being under a glamorous tent in the Newark Museum’s Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden. The annual black-tie fundraiser titled Newark Museum Legacy Gala: Celebrating Museums for All will honor two of Newark’s distinguished art visionaries for their contributions and commitment to the thriving arts movement in Newark: Museum trustee and patron Joseph J. Melone, who will be presented with the 2016 Medal for Meritorious Service and Nancy Cantor Chancellor of the Rutgers University-Newark, accepting the Distinguished Community Partner Award. Gala attendees will also have a chance to enjoy the museum’s special exhibition Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam through Time and Place which closes May 15 and a live auction for several unique experiences including the opportunity to “curate” the Christmas tree in the Ballantine House with Ulysses Dietz, the Museum’s Chief Curator and Curator of Decorative Arts and a Night at the Museum party for 12 children. The annual Gala helps make possible the Museum’s many education and exhibition initiatives that impact the lives of more than 525,000 children, adults and families in the tri-state region each year.  For tickets or further information visit or call 973-596-6571.

Over the course of the city’s history, many of the most famous performers and revered forms of entertainment have taken center stage in Newark. During Founders Weekend, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the city’s venerable performing arts center, will be booming across Military Park with performances by some of today’s top headliners in comedy, American pop, roots rock and Latin music. Hailed by NPR as two of the best roots rock musicians of their generation, Tedeschi Trucks Band, led by husband-and-wife team of singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi and guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks will thrill audiences with two full sets of their signature 12-piece tour-de-force of Memphis soul, R&B and blues and funk music on Friday, May 13 at 8:30pm. Film and televisionstar/co-creator of the critically acclaimed long running series Mad About You and the FX series Married, Paul Reiser will be delivering the laughs on Saturday, May 14 at 8pm in the Victoria Theater. Audiences will dance to the melding deep-heated flamenco, rumba, salsa and pop music of The Gipsy Kings featuring Nicolas Reyesand Tonino Baliardo, performing on Sunday, May 15 at 7:00pm. Multi-award winning vocalist Scott Coultier and special guest Rebecca LaChance (of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”) will take audiences on a musical journey back to the “music factory” where Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Lieber & Stoller, Neil Diamond and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill forever changed the sound of American pop songs in “You’ve Got a Friend: The Music of the Brill Building,” on Saturday, May 14 at 6pm and 8:30pm. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will wow audiences with a performance conducted by Jérémie Rhorer on Saturday, May 14 at 8pm featuring 2016 Grammy winner Augustin Hadelich whose program will include Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and Brahms. For more information and tickets visit NJPAC 1 Center St. and

Newark is famed for its iconic green spaces such as Weequahic Park and Lincoln Park. During Founders Weekend, the City of Newark will be celebrating the city’s parks and preservation in “Meet Me in the Park,” a weekly walking club taking place on May 14 at Branch Brook Park, designer Frederick Law Olmstead’s natural masterpiece and home to the country’s largest collection of cheery blossoms (more than Washington D.C.). Meet at the Cherry Blossom Center parking lot by the softball field at 8:30am. The Office of the Mayor, NewarkMunicipal Council, Newark Youth Council, ShopRite of Newark and the Department of Neighborhood andRecreational Services will also hold the “We are Newark Citywide Cleanup,” a joint beautification initiative of volunteers on May 14th 9-12pm. For more information and locations around the city call 973-733-6685 or 5373.

“Founders Weekend will be the victory lap for Newark Celebration 350 as we come together and celebrate 350 years of Newark’s extraordinary history and heritage,” said NC 350 Chair Junius Williams. “The entire city has a lot to celebrate and we look forward to enjoying this incredible weekend of family fun entertainment and programs showcasing the very best of Newark with everyone.”

“We celebrate the 350th anniversary of Newark’s founding as a vibrant community with a rich cultural diversity and heritage of economic innovations and academic resilience,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “This Festival highlights our glorious past and celebrates that today, we are revitalizing our historic downtown, reinvigorating our communities, building partnerships as well as structures, and empowering our neighborhoods and people. Newark is poised for great things!”

The following is a full schedule of events and activity areas for Founders Weekend Festival. Times and artists are subject to change. For the latest updates, please visit



Emcee: Darnell “J.D.” Williams
6 p.m.: Brick City Soul Collective
7 p.m.: Faith Evans. The multiplatinum Grammy-winning R&B diva from Newark (“I’ll Be Missing You,” an homage to her late husband, hip-hop legend Notorious B.I.G.) lends her powerhouse voice and show-stopping presence to the festival.
8:30-10:30 p.m.
: WBGO’s DJ Felix Hernandez


Emcee: Rah Digga
1 p.m.: Malcolm X Shabazz High School Marching Band
1:30 p.m.: Soul singer and songwriter Angela Johnson
2:45 p.m.: Random Test Reggae Band. The sounds of the Caribbean, direct from Asbury Park.
4 p.m.: The Airmen of Note with special guest Stefon Harris presented by the Institute of Jazz at Rutgers University. The multi-Grammy-nominated vibraphonist, who also is NJPAC’s Artistic Director of Jazz Education, appears with the U.S. Air Force’s premier jazz band from Washington, D.C.

5:30 p.m.: Robert Glasper Experiment. The Grammy-winning artist brings his critically acclaimed, breakthrough fusion of R&B, jazz and hip-hop to Newark.
7 p.m.: Naughty By Nature. A triumphant hometown return! One of hip-hop’s legendary and most enduring groups (“Hip Hop Hooray,” “O.P.P.”) made history as the artists to win the first Grammy for Rap Album of the Year in 1996.
8:30-10:30 p.m.: Hot 97’s DJ Bobby Trends


Emcee: Sheila Anderson
1 p.m.: Them Cloud Kids: Epiphany and YB the Brand. Them Cloud Kids offers a dynamic selection of artists who portray current musical vibes, positivity and a reflection of Ubuntu culture. Through spoken word, art and live music, Them Cloud Kids places an emphasis on uniting and empowering Newark youth.
2 p.m.: The Newark Boys Chorus
3 p.m.: Jazz House Kids
4 p.m.: Teen singer and songwriter Alexis Morrast with her trio
5 p.m.: Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens. A program titled The Soul of Newark journeys to the intersection of jazz and soul during the heyday of the city’s music scene.


Emcee: Cherry Martinez
1 p.m.: A musical tribute to Newark’s “Divine One” – jazz singer Sarah Vaughan – with Wincey Terry, Janet Van Kline and Jackie Jones
2:30 p.m.
: Blues singer and harmonica player Rob Paparozzi and his band
4 p.m.: The Rev. Stef & Jubilation chorus with special guest Cissy Houston. The double Grammy-winning, soul-gospel singer with a six-decade career shares the stage with Newark’s prestigious choir.
5:30 p.m.: India. “The Princess of Salsa” is considered to be one of the world’s top Latin music recording artists with hits like “La Voz de la Experiencia” (The Voice of Experience) and “Sobre el Fuego” (Over the Fire).
7 p.m.: Power 105.1’s DJ Reymo


Emcee: Sheila Anderson
1 p.m.: Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira. Students demonstrate the Afro-Brazilian martial art, which combines dance, game and ceremony and is based on respect and integrity.
1:30 p.m.: Them Cloud Kids: Leah Jenea
2 p.m.: Charger Rock Alliance
3 p.m.: Them Cloud Kids: Shane Fuller and Leigh Soriano
4 p.m.: The Brick City Jazz Orchestra performs a tribute to Sarah Vaughan.

Other Founders Weekend Festival Area Grounds and Activities (Open Saturday, 1-6 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.):

Community Expo: A meet-and-greet setting for the city’s institutions, corporations, non-profits and outreach services to interact with the public. Information about government programs, health screenings, voter registration, cultural interests, recreation and more is available from exhibitors such as New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark Museum, Greater Newark Conservancy, Newark Public Library, La Casa de Don Pedro, Ironbound Community Corporation/Newark Riverfront Revival, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Gallery Aferro Mobile Portrait Studio, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center/Barnabas Health, New Jersey Historical Society, WBGO, Rutgers University-Newark, Newark Happening, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Panasonic, Abbott Leadership Institute/YMS College Success, Newark Arts Council, Newark Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Gateway Project Spaces, Muslim League of Voters, Omega Psi Phi, Urban League of Essex County, Barat Foundation, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, Guy Sterling, Mayor Sharpe James and more.

Designers and Artists Village: A showcase of artwork and handcrafted items by some of Newark’s acclaimed artists—look for renowned visual artist Jerry Gant’s commemorative NC 350 T-shirts. The current Portals Newark installation in the park, which repurposes shipping containers with audio-visual technology to connect passers-by worldwide, is also open to visitors. Along Park Place, bordering Military Park, a public art menagerie of the Barat Foundation’s colorful giant Animodules™, Newark’s “Official Peace Ambassadors,” are custom-made to attract children, who are encouraged to help create and paint one of the 3-D, jigsaw-like sculptures.

Kidz Korner: Family fun activities area with face painters, balloon sculptors and more. Highlights include PSEGwith Sesame Street, Playworks’ “Switch and Double Tag,” representatives of the New Jersey Devils’ sponsored games for prizes, K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers shoe decorating area activity with children’s shoes donated by BOBS by Skechers, an obstacle course by Child’s Play Challenge Course, FloydLittle’s Double Dutchinstruction and demos, Glassroots’ bracelet making and more.

North Ward Food Truck Place: A fleet of eateries-on-a-roll, serving barbecue, smoothies, cheesesteak sandwiches, tacos, ice cream and more along Park Place.

Suggested parking areas near Military Park: Gateway Parking 268 Market St.; Star Parking 23 Edison Place;Welcome Parking LLC 1160 Raymond Blvd; Laz Parking 100 Mulberry St.; Icon Parking 111 Mulberry St.; Newark Center Parking (Belle) 42 Mulberry St. and Edison Properties 14-20 Central Ave. (opening 11am) and 40 Central Ave. (open only Saturday).  Parking lots will be open near the Prudential Center as well. Park Place between Raymond Blvd and Center Street will be closed.

Festival Rules: Coolers, glass containers or alcohol will not be permitted. Chairs or picnic blankets on the inner oval lawn in front of the mainstage are not allowed though they are permitted in the outer oval (outside of the path). No smoking, bicycles and dogs in the park. Bags and backpacks are subject to search.

The Signature Partners for Newark Celebration 350 are Prudential Financial, Victoria Foundation, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and PSEG.  Premier Partners are Foundation for Newark’s Future, Community Foundation of New Jersey, Barnabas Health, Panasonic, Dodge Foundation, Newark Charter School Fund, Rutgers University-Newark, City of Newark, Fidelco and MCJ/Amelior Foundation. Spotlight Partners includeRobert Wood Johnson Foundation, Charles Edison Fund, Bank of America, PNC Bank, Investors Foundation, JP Morgan Trust, TD Bank, Essex County College, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Profeta Urban Investment Foundation, Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, Edison Properties, Turrell Fund, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Capital One, Novartis, Gibbons Law, McCarter & English, Wells Fargo, Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC, Century 21 Construction, Schumann Fund for New Jersey, Matrix Development, Lowenstein Sandler, Genova Burns, AAA Northeast and Newark Happening.

About Newark Celebration 350

Newark Celebration 350 (NC 350) is a year-long jubilee of unique events and festivities commemorating the 350thanniversary of the city of Newark’s founding. Over 150 marquee programs will highlight the city’s rich history, remarkable achievements, diverse communities and extraordinary culture presented by a unique coalition of citizens, educational institutions, cultural organizations and community groups.  This spectacular “festival of festivals” aims to inspire and excite locals and visitors from around the world by showcasing the best of this great American city. For more information visit #newark350.

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