THE AMERI’KANA BLOCK PARTY: EXPLORING AMERICAN MUSIC IN THE HEART OF KC
On September 25th, 2021 Art as Mentorship took over the parking lot of Grinders KC from Noon-5 p.m. for the first annual AMERI’KANA Block Party.
The event was free to the public and feature a show from local and youth talent as well as a line-up of all-star international musicians. Party-goers experienced performances from acts such as Mexican Folk-Dance company El Grupo Atotonilco, Beau & Aidan Bledsoe, Malek Azrael, students from Art as Mentorship’s flagship program, the Rebel Song Academy, and the AMERI’KANA All-Stars; a supergroup of local and international musicians performing an off-the-cuff set of classic hits.
This “Celebration of Makers, Music & Art” included fierce black-owned in-line skating collective Skate Club plus the indie craft fair, Strawberry Swing, who curated artisans and shops who their goods during the Block Party.
AMERI’KANA is a collaborative project between Art as Mentorship and Making Movies that explores America’s music, both past and present. This project highlights the contributions of Black, Indigenous, and people of color and how interwoven these individuals are in all of America’s stories. This is an evolution of work that began six years ago when Enrique Chi, of the worldwide band Making Movies, used a benefit concert called Making Movies Carnaval to establish Art as Mentorship and raise resources to impact young artists in the KC community.
NPR explains the Making Movies album gave birth to the AMERI’KANA project and the pilot of the documentary aired on PBS. This project has taken a giant step in preserving the history of historically excluded people, whose practices and music have been overlooked and ignored. AMERI’KANA has helped to pass on the gifts of our ancestors to the next generation through education, live performances and multimedia production. The AMERI’KANA Block Party on September 25th located at 1817 Locust, will mark the launch of live music and cultural experience produced specifically for the Kansas City community. In 2021, this project produced a one hour PBS Special, radio show, and live streams, (which are available online), signifying proof that Art as Mentorship is moving in the right direction.
The AMERI’KANA Block Party, is merely a prelude to what will become a notable music festival beginning in 2022, utilizing both the stage at Grinders KC and its parking lot in the heart of the Crossroads, impacting over 3,000 Kansas Citians.
Art as Mentorship is a not-for-profit business 501(c)(3) dedicated to empowering young people, through music, to write their own success stories. The AMERI’KANA Block Party is made possible thanks to support from: The Kauffman Foundation, Hallmark, Mildred’s Coffee, Seen Merch, Alt Cap, NTDF of Kansas City, and Chicken N’ Pickle.