2011 Art & Soul Festival: Events at the Indianapolis Artsgarden

When it comes to Black History Month, there’s really only one Indianapolis festival you need to know about: Art & Soul. Sponsored by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Art & Soul is a month long festival that celebrates the achievements of black men and women throughout Indianapolis and the United States. Music, dance, museum exhibits, and presentations are all part of Art & Soul, and most of the events on the calendar are absolutely free. 2011 Art & Soul events take place all over the Circle City, from the Indiana State Museum to the Eiteljorg Museum, but a large part of the Art & Soul festivities take place at the Indianapolis Artsgarden in downtown Indianapolis. Celebrate Black History Month by attending one (or all) of the Indianapolis events at the Artsgarden that are part of the 2011 Art & Soul festival. Pick your performances with the handy FunCityFinder.com list below:

January 27, 2011: 2011 Art & Soul Kick Off Event

Taking place on Thursday, January 27, 2011, the 2011 Art & Soul Kick Off event will feature the talents of vibes player Billy Wooten and the “grace in space” of the Kenyetta Dance Company, a pre-professional Indianapolis dance troupe. Wooten is a long time resident of Indianapolis who fell in love with the Indianapolis music scene when he and his band toured through Indy in the late 60’s. Introducing the two performers at the Kick Off will be Indianapolis media personality Amos Brown, the host of “Afternoons with Amos” and a familiar voice on Indianapolis AM radio.

Video of the Kenyetta Dance Company performing “Na Na Na” at Purdue University; the Kenyetta Dance Company will be performing as part of the 2011 Art & Soul festival in Indianapolis


January 28, 2011: George Middleton Quartet

George Middleton is an Indianapolis jazz player whose style is firmly rooted in the gospel and smooth jazz side of things. Middleton and his quartet have released three albums, This Time of Year, That Special Place, and What You’ve Given Me, each one focusing on a particular aspect of Middleton’s music (This Time of Year is “holiday jazz”). The group is also working on a fourth album, Jazz-Love. The George Middleton Quartet doesn’t just play originals, however; the Indianapolis band also has several different sets of jazz standards, contemporary jazz, and some light R&B. Expect familiar tunes alongside smooth originals if you see the George Middleton Quartet on January 28, 2011.

Video of the George Middleton Quartet performing “The Way of the World;” the George Middleton Quartet will be performing as part of the 2011 Art & Soul festival in Indianapolis.


February 1, 2011: June Rochelle

June Rochelle got caught up in Indianapolis Colts fever just like the rest of us. Amid the songs on her MySpace page (songs like “God is Good” and “For All the Love”) is a song called “This Is the Colts,” rallying Indy football fans to support their team. Rochelle, a native of Indianapolis, isn’t just an Indianapolis sports fan. She’s also a talented R&B and gospel singer who honed her chops in the church and at a tutoring program through Butler University. Citing influences as diverse as Diana Ross, The Clark Sisters, and Mary J. Blige, Rochelle sings in the Voices of Faith choir and also has a show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network called Learn the Word. June Rochelle takes the Artsgarden stage at 12:15 p.m. on February 1, 2011.

Video of June Rochelle performing “Radio” on the Jeff Majors Show; June Rochelle will be performing as part of the 2011 Art & Soul festival in Indianapolis.


February 2, 2011: Ill Holiday and the All Star Band

Indianapolis hip-hop artist Ill Holiday is about more than break beats and fluid rhymes. Yeah, these are important parts of his music, but in the end it’s more about Ill Holiday’s message of individuality and what he calls “the simple of being cool.” His fans and supporters are called “Illigans,” a term he describes on his website as “those that have decided to take back their freedom to decide what is hot.” Ill Holiday and the All Star Band have played at a variety of Indianapolis music venues and occasions, including the Indiana Black Expo and the Robbing the Bank event at the Art Bank gallery.

Video of Ill Holiday performing with the Luke Austin Daugherty Jam Band in Indianapolis


February 4, 2011: Featured Artist Showcase

The Featured Artists for the 2011 Art & Soul festival make their first appearance at the Artsgarden on February 4, 2011. Jazz saxophonist Rob White will be starting the Featured Artist Showcase at noon; White, who released his first album, Let It Ride, in 2006, is a member of the Orpheus Music record label and a purveyor of a smooth, funky soul sound. At 1:00, jazz singer Donna Edmond will take the stage. And spinning before, between, and after these Indianapolis musicians will be Lobyn Hamilton, a DJ who doubles as an Indianapolis artist; Hamilton is a “vinyl record artist” whose work has appeared at the Oranje Exhibition and elsewhere around Indy.

Channel 8 WISH TV video interview with Indianapolis DJ and artist Lobyn Hamilton


February 5, 2011: Governor Davis and the Blues Ambassadors

So far in the 2011 Art & Soul festival there’s been a lot of jazz with a little bit of hip hop thrown in for good measure. On February 5, however, the blues makes an appearance with Governor Davis and the Blues Ambassadors, a five piece Indianapolis band that plays rollicking originals as well as crowd pleasing covers. Governor Davis and his Ambassadors are a pretty common sight around Indy; they’ve played the Indy Jazz Fest several years, and they’ve had shows at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the Slippery Noodle Inn, and a plethora of Indianapolis bars.

Video of Governor Davis and the Blues Ambassadors performing in Bloomington, Indiana; Governor Davis and the Blues Ambassadors will be performing as part of the 2011 Art & Soul festival in Indianapolis.


February 8, 2011: Ori Afro Jazz Ensemble

Take a trip to the balmy tropical vistas of Puerto Rico and Cuba with the Ori Afro Jazz Ensemble, a band that’ll whisk you away to a land of coconut groves and hammocks with their steel drums, sax, and island rhythm section. The Ori Afro Jazz Ensemble plays traditional island songs alongside ambitious jazz fusion numbers. A five piece group, the Ori Afro Jazz Ensemble welds a number of traditional styles to create a sound all their own.

February 10, 2011: Freetown Village Singers

You probably know Freetown Village as the living history museum on Indiana Avenue, near Indiana University – Purdue University (IUPUI). While that Indianapolis museum allows visitors to step back in time and experience life as a newly freed slave, the Freetown Village that’s a part of the 2011 Art & Soul festival is only slightly different. The Freetown Village Singers bring the music of American slave culture to the Indianapolis Artsgarden on February 10. These a cappella singers outfit themselves in historically accurate clothes and provide modern interpretations of traditional folk songs and spirituals, the songs that would eventually lead to the evolution of jazz, blues, and gospel. Educate yourself on the rhythmic and oral traditions of one group of African Americans at this 2011 Art & Soul event.

February 11, 2011: Everett Greene

Everett Greene’s golden voice is something of a workhorse. Not only is Greene an accomplished blues and gospel singer, he has also lent his vocal talents to a number of museum and movie voice overs, and as an actor he has won an Emmy award and worked on commercials for the Indiana Pacers, the Hoosier Lottery, and more. As a musician, Greene’s latest album is 2002’s I’ve Got Love, recorded right here in the Circle City.

Video of Everett Greene performing live at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis


February 12, 2011: Gregg Bacon

The “Sizzlin’ Gregg Bacon” is one of Indy’s many smooth jazz players, a saxophonist who has been a part of several Indianapolis festivals and events, including Animals and All That Jazz at the Indianapolis Zoo and the Jazz on the Point series at Eagle Creek Park. Chances are if you’ve seen jazz around Indianapolis, you’ve seen Gregg Bacon cook up a delicious meal of sizzlin’ sax and chill sounds.

Video of Gregg Bacon performing on Channel 59 WXIN in Indianapolis


February 15, 2011: Bashiri Asad

Something of a fixture at the Jazz Kitchen is Bashiri Asad, a soul and fusion vocalist who has already made his name on the Indianapolis music circuit. Asad is a familiar sight at Indianapolis blues and jazz clubs like the Chatterbox Jazz Club, the aforementioned Jazz Kitchen, and the Slippery Noodle Inn. Asad’s smooth voice and downtempo arrangements is the aural equivalent of candles and the soft touch of satin; listen to too much of it and you’ll find yourself on a slippery slope to utter relaxation. Asad takes the stage at 12:15 p.m. on February 15, 2011.

Video of Bashiri Asad performing “Summertime” at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis


February 18, 2011: Cynthia Layne

The title of Cynthia Layne’s newest album, Beautiful Soul, just about says it all. Enclosed in the disc are several examples of soaring, toe tapping soul music, all centered around the lovely voice of Layne. A member of the Owl Studios record label, Cynthia Layne syncs soul music with rhythmic jazz undertones, a style that’s all over Beautiful Soul. Come see this Brass Ring Award winning artist on February 18, 2011 at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.

Video of Cynthia Layne performing “Inner City Blues” at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis


February 19, 2011: Metropolitan Youth Orchestra

The Metropolitan Youth Orchestra is a fully featured musical group that teaches Indianapolis children about self worth, teamwork, and creative expression while celebrating the joy of music. Run by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra is comprised of children from kindergarten to twelfth grade, and everyone has a role. This Indianapolis music organization has performed at the Indiana Roof Ballroom as well as other venues around the city. In the spirit of the 2011 Art & Soul festival, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra will be performing jazz standards at the Artsgarden on February 19, 2011.

Video of members of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra performing during a “Play-a-Thon” in Broad Ripple Village in Indianapolis


February 22, 2011: Goldie Johnson

Though she usually just goes by “Goldie,” Goldie Johnson and her group, Exquisitely Yours, perform R&B, jazz, and blues with just a speck of country music thrown in for good measure. Goldie’s dynamic range allows her to bring immediacy and punch to even familiar numbers that may have gotten stale over the years. On her debut studio album which released in fall of 2010, Acoustically Speaking, Goldie combines classic covers with a few original tunes, a technique she’ll surely use on February 22 at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.

Video of Indianapolis musician Goldie performing a cover of John Mayer’s “Gravity”


February 24, 2011: The John Harden Project

John Harden II has been playing around Indianapolis for over thirteen years with his group, the John Harden Project. A product of the University of Louisville’s jazz studies program, Harden has performed at the Madame Walker Theatre, the Governor’s Mansion, at the Indianapolis 500 Mini-Marathon, and plenty of other Indianapolis music venues. The John Harden Project cites Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, and Ella Fitzgerald as influences, and Harden’s nimble chops are sure to be on display at the Indianapolis Artsgarden on February 24, 2011.

Video of the John Harden Project performing “Oleo” live; the John Harden Project will be performing as part of the 2011 Art & Soul festival in Indianapolis.


February 25, 2011: Closing Event with Featured Artists

The featured artists of the 2011 Art & Soul festival return to the Artsgarden’s center stage on February 25, 2011 to wrap up the month long festival. Though there are a few more 2011 Art & Soul events after February 25 (including a February 27 performance by the Asante Children’s Theater), this closing event marks the last few days of the festival. Saxophonist Rob White, vocalist Donna Edmond, and DJ Lobyn Hamilton will be reprising their February 4 appearances, and the closing event will also feature the talents of Brenda Williams, a jazz vocalist who usually performs with her band, Brenda Williams and the Soul Survivors.

2011 Art & Soul Festival at the Indianapolis Artsgarden

January 27 – February 27, 2011

Tickets: FREE

Event Homepage

Indianapolis Artsgarden

50 W Washington St

Indianapolis, IN 46204



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