The annual DC Funk Parade is back to celebrate the funk music native to Washington’s historic U Street Corridor. This year, the three-day ‘Magic of Music’ festival will showcase local and regional musicians over the course of two weekends.
While the core focus of the DC Funk Parade is to spotlight funk music, the festival also features every genre of music born out of jazz and funk, including rap, hip-hop and Washington’s own go-go.
In addition to the day festival, the Funk Parade will also include a mural walk led by author and historian Briana Thomas, a beer release at the Right Proper Brewing Company in Shaw, and a series of panels that educate festival-goers about Washington’s entertainment industry.
Jessica Teachey is the senior director of community engagement at The MusicianShip, a music education nonprofit that organizes the DC Funk Parade, The Wammie Awards and free programs for local youths interested in music.
Teachey spoke to the fusion of sound present at this year’s festival.
“We believe that a lot of these genres have created the melting pot of what U Street is today,” Teachey said.
The celebration of Washington’s multiculturalism is the backbone of the DC Funk Parade, and the primary motivation for hosting the festival on U Street.
As Teachey explained, “so many different people of different cultures descend upon this part of the city.”
Historically, the U Street corridor was a refuge of music and culture for African Americans during Washington’s era of segregation. Also known as “Black Broadway,” U Street is still home to the Lincoln Theatre, a venue famed for hosting performers such as Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday.
Today, the DC Funk Parade preserves U Street’s long-standing heritage as a beacon of Black culture in Washington. As the city continues to attract mainstream performers, Teachey underscored the importance of maintaining a dual appreciation for the city’s heritage and homegrown talent.
“It’s still important for the city, residents, tourists and constituents [of Washington] to always support local productions and local events — artists and creatives who live right here,” she said.
In addition to fostering greater representation for the city’s talent, the ethos of the Funk Parade breeds a larger conversation around the accessibility of music and festivals in the greater Washington area.
For the students that The MusicianShip serves, the Funk Parade creates a space where “they can actually come outside of their house and get access to a free festival, have a great time with their families, and know that the neighborhoods they come from contain icons,” Teachey said.
This year’s DC Funk Parade hopes to raise $5,000 to go toward The MusicianShip’s free music programs for youths in Washington.
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