NJ.com article on Music City Fest

We’re grateful to Tennyson Donyéa for a sensitive article published last week on our 5th annual Music City Festival. Featuring quotes from festival organizers Cesar Presa and Douglas Farrand, the article paints a picture of the festival and the ethos behind Music City’s organizing work. Stay tuned for media from the festival! You can read the article here or below.

N.J. music festival to celebrate diversity of cultures with ‘dancing in the streets’

Updated May 24, 2021; Posted May 14, 2021 

By Tennyson Donyéa | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

This weekend the city of Orange will look a lot like a couple of lines from the Martha and The Vandella’s song “Dancing In The Streets”

There’ll be swingin’ and swayin’ and records playing, Dancing in the street.

After a hiatus last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Orange’s 5th Annual “Music City Festival: Dancing in the Streets” makes its grand return. The three-day event, hosted by University of Orange, is a chance to celebrate the region’s rich cultural heritage.

“My family and I are originally from Uruguay. We emigrated here almost 20 years ago now and the culture is very diverse in Orange,” said Cesar Presa, one of the festival’s organizers and a musician slated to perform this weekend. “(We have) African, Caribbean immigrants, all types of Latin American immigrants, American folks who have been here for multiple generations, and the art and music scene, I think, reflects that.”

The festival boasts a lineup of more than 80 local and regional artists. Attendees can expect to hear everything from the dance-inducing genres of house and hip hop and SOCA to other storied genres like gospel, reggae and mariachi, organizers said.

America’s multiculturalism is inbred in the fabric of this nation. Organizers said the festival aims to put the community’s identity and culture on a pedestal and to bring people together.

“Throughout the pandemic, and (talking about) 400 years of inequality…there’s a real kind of connecting thread, even if we don’t all speak the same languages, we can all connect and share with music,” Presa said.

University of Orange is a nonprofit community organization in the township, focused on restoration urbanism, a term the organization said is rooted in understanding how segregationist policies have historically impacted U.S. cities. It routinely hosts free community classes.

“It’s about recognizing, on the one hand, the ways in which our cities have been shaped by long history of racist and classist urban policy,” said University of Orange’s Music City Program Director Doug Farrand. “On the other hand, recognizing that the resources and the knowledge that we need to address that, to build a more equitable future for our cities, are already in our own communities and exist within the lived experience, the knowledge, the skill sets and the passions of local residents.”

The festival begins Friday at 4 p.m. and runs through Sunday. For a full rundown of the performances, click here.

Tennyson Donyèa may be reached at tcoleman@njadvancemedia.com.

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