The newly established African American Heritage Commission of Kinston and Lenoir County has announced Kinston’s First Annual Funk Festival, scheduled May 27 to May 28. This year’s event will honor Kinston native Maceo Parker, one of the most influential saxophonist of all time.
The Festival kicks off Friday, May 27 with guided tours of the exhibition, “Hey, America! Eastern North Carolina and the Birth of Funk” and culminates Saturday, May 28 with an evening tribute to Maceo Parker.
Maceo Parker was named a North Carolina Heritage Award recipient by Governor Pat McCrory. Parker will be honored during a special ceremony and performance on May 25 in Raleigh. Nominated by D. Choci Gray, a visual artist from Kinston, Maceo has played with every leader of funk, first with James Brown, later with George Clinton and as part of Prince’s concert tour.
“He’s the living, breathing pulse which connects the history of funk in one golden thread,” Ms. D. CHOCI Gray said. Gray, along with African American Heritage Commission chairperson Geraldyne Barbour, believes that recognition of the important contributions of African Americans on the Lenoir County cultural and historic landscape will generate a strong sense of pride in the community.
“In this first annual event, the African American Heritage Commission wants to showcase the musical heritage of Lenoir County that has been part of our community, family, and church,” said Ms. Barbour. “Maceo is one of many talented musicians, artists and educators from Lenoir County that have achieved not only national but international recognition.”
Guided tours of the exhibit “Hey, America! Eastern North Carolina and the Birth of Funk “ are scheduled Friday, May 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Community Council for the Arts in Kinston. The exhibit was produced by the North Carolina Museum of History in collaboration with the North Carolina Arts Council to commemorate the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina. Kinston is a hub for that project where the Music Park is located nearby on Spring and South Queen streets.
Also scheduled on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. is a “Meet & Greet” and tour of the historic Adkin High School, now the Adkin Complex, where one of the most influential public school band directors taught, Geneva Perry. She had played saxophone in the International Sweethearts of Rhythm before moving to Kinston. She inspired many students, including Nathaniel “Nat” Jones, who was also part of the James Brown Band, along with Sonny Bannerman and Thornton Canady.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be a Cultural Fair at the former Adkin High School, with a variety of vendors, exhibitors, and members of many local organizations participating. Health information will be disseminated from stations, and emergency and public safety vehicles will be on view.
The Saturday night focus on Maceo Parker is the highlight of this year’s event. The tribute will be emceed by his brother Melvin Parker, who also played with the James Brown Band. Attendees will be treated to an evening of music and a “funky good time.” The ticketed event is from 6 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $30 each before May 17 and $40 after that time. Because of demand, tickets may not be available at the door. A reserved table for eight can be purchased for $250. The event will be held at the Adkin Complex, located at 1216 Tower Hill Road in Kinston.
For more information or to purchase tickets to the Maceo Parker May 28 Tribute, contact (252) 523-9134. Checks for tickets should be made out to the African American Heritage Commission and mailed directly to 2749 Forrest Drive, Kinston, N.C. 28504.