The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presents D.C. Legendary Musicians (DCLM), featuring three days of music, entertainment, dance and more from July 29 to 31 in celebration of D.C.’s return to live music.
These events are part of the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage Series, honoring different cultural styles performed by local artists. One notable dance style that will be showcased this weekend is hand dance, which is deeply rooted in the District’s history. Dating back to the ’20s, hand dance is a distinct form of swing dance and jitterbug. The dance hit peak popularity in the ‘50s and later reemerged in the ‘80s within the D.C. community. It is the District’s official dance and a source of pride for many native Washingtonians, which is what the festivities are about: appreciating and championing D.C. culture and talent.
Another top feature for this series will be the many local musicians performing, including DJ Adam “TC” Morton, vocalist Lady Mary and saxophonist Paul Carr, with emcee Ida Campbell. Lady Mary captivates audiences’ attention with her lively performances including songs spanning a wide range of genres. She has performed with several R&B and soul greats such as The Temptations, The Intruders and Betty Wright.
“I am looking forward to entertaining and making the audience happy,” Lady Mary says. “It’s an honor to perform at the Kennedy Center.”
Lady Mary and the other performers in the lineup are part of DCLM, a nonprofit serving musicians in the DMV and providing services that ensure they have social security, Medicaid, Medicare and other living essentials. Their mission is to preserve, protect, educate and promote the artistic legacy and well-being of D.C.’s professional musicians. DCLM’s chairperson, Rev. Dr. Sandra Butler-Truesdale, speaks on the significance of this event for participating musicians.
“This gives musicians an opportunity to not just perform at the Kennedy Center but also to have that as a part of their resume, which is very important when you are a musician or artist,” she says.
DCLM also works to bring young musicians to the forefront, so you can expect to hear multiple up-and-coming local artists playing an array of music genres from blues to R&B to jazz at the event series.
When referring to the wide range of music styles DCLM supports, Butler-Truesdale says, “I always tell [artists] that it’s 72 keys on a piano, and y’all play the same 72 keys — even if you play them at a different beat.”
Along with musical performances and hand dance, the series will feature film screenings, other dance classes like liturgical dance and African dance, and an arts market on The REACH plaza. Butler-Truesdale wants people to attend this series to honor D.C.’s musicians. Although the event is in celebration of local natives, she stresses that everyone and anyone is welcome.
“You can bring the babies in, you can bring the children in, you can bring Grandma,” she says. “Everybody can come.”
Don’t miss the DCLM event series at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage from July 29-31. Lady Mary will perform on Saturday at 6 p.m., which will also be livestreamed here. To see the full schedule of events, visit Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage page here.
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