New York City, USA – Graviton African Arts Network and African Hypertext, by special arrangement with Yoruba juju icon King Sunny Ade & His African Beats – one of Africa’s most storied dance bands – have announced the return of New York’s Great African Ball on Friday, April 29 at Roseland Ballroom. Doors will open at 9 p.m., with the performance to run – in the style to which patrons of this unique New York event have become accustomed in the six previous editions of the Ball – from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.The Great African Ball is a sister event – and a capstone – to the renowned New York African Film Festival, whose screenings will run from April 20 through April 28 this year, and whose year-round mission is to share the vision of African media-makers with audiences in the United States and throughout the world. For schedules and information, call 212-352-1720 or visit www.africanfilmny.org or www.filmlinc.com (The Film Society of Lincoln Center).
On the foundation of his personal sound and charismatic aura, King Sunny Ade remains a towering figure in his country and in the Nigerian diaspora. After decades of steady success in Africa, Europe and the Far East, his rootedness in the storytelling, moralizing and praise-singing of juju remains the bedrock of his artistic personality, and his long-awaited return to New York for his first appearance at The Great African Ball promises to be special. (King Sunny Ade’s
last New York performance had been scheduled for September 12, 2001, at S.O.B.’s nightclub in SoHo, a short walk from the World Trade Center towers, but obviously that appearance could not have taken place. So Ade has not played in New York since 1999.)
The first Great African Ball, conceived by Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour, was held at the Hammerstein Ballroom on April 17, 1999 to a packed house of 3,500 patrons drawn from the ranks of New York City’s ever-growing African immigrant communities, “world music” fans and A-list showbiz personalities. (Stevie Wonder made a surprise appearance in the crowd and insisted on joining N’Dour onstage. He was but one of many dignitaries in the audience.) The event was a six-hour celebration and a first. Not merely a “concert”, this was a full Senegalese “ball” – or “soirée dansante” – aimed to reflect the kind of unhinged performances N’Dour and his band give in their own club in Dakar, the Senegalese capital. (Needless to say, the performances that King Sunny Ade gives in Nigeria reflect a kindred spirit of enjoyment and wholesome abandon.) In the ensuing five years (four times at Hammerstein and once at Roseland), The Great African Ball has fulfilled the promise N’Dour made to his New York fans to make The Great African Ball an annual event.
With Youssou N’Dour passing the baton this year to his peer and good friend King Sunny Ade, once again an unmistakable “African feeling” promises to envelope the house for another marathon night of some serious social dancing.
King Sunny Ade will share the stage of this year’s Ball with his Igbo countryman, highlife luminary Prince Obi Osadebe, in a truly historic meeting of Yoruba and Igbo musical legends never before seen – not only in America but even in Nigeria.
The women, men, fashions, food, fragrances and verve of Lagos – and of Africa – will all be on offer, mingling with New York’s own homegrown African vibes in a genuinely special “Naija-style” evening, with the crowd as Ade’s co-star.
Tickets for The Great African Ball ($40 in advance, $50 on the day of the show) are available at all TicketMaster outlets (www.ticketmaster.com), at the Irving Plaza box office (17 Irving Place – 212-777-6800), and from selected merchants
in New York City’s several main African immigrant neighborhoods.
Roseland Ballroom is located at 239 West 52nd St., (West of Broadway, between Broadway & 8th Ave.) .