A commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S. is enough reason to attend today’s Juneteenth celebration in Richmond, but the impressive musical lineup at this year’s festivities could on its own draw large crowds.
Earlier this week, we told you that blues legend Jesse James is slated to headline the popular festival at Nichol Park, which begins with a parade at 10 a.m. and continues with a park festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (More festival details here).
We’ve more recently learned the festival will be graced by Richmond’s award-winning gospel singer and minister, Andre Bean (otherwise known as Simply Dre). Bean, known for uniquely combining traditional and modern styles of gospel, is set to perform at the start of the festival, 11 a.m.
Simply Dre has come a long way from his early days, when he went from performing at family functions and local talent shows to delivering on tracks for such famous Bay Area rappers as Master P, Rappin 4 Tay, Lil Ric, Dangerous Dame and others. Although he could have continued putting out mainstream, secular music, and possibly enjoyed a life of greater celebrity, he returned to gospel via a call from God.
Dre called fame and fortune fleeting.
“Only what you do for Christ will last,” he said.
Then again, the crooner managed to make a name for himself even in gospel music, having earned Best New Artist at the 2013 Gospel Choice Awards.
The minister says it is his duty and obligation to spread the gospel to a lost generation. He starts off every show with his own personal testimony of his struggles and speaks of God’s role in helping him overcome life’s obstacles.