Sunday July 2nd was a joyous occasion for Afrobeats fans and wine connoisseurs in the DMV, which marked the first ever Afrobeats and Wine Festival. The event took place at The Bullpen, a festival park next to the Washington Nationals baseball stadium in DC. The event aims at combining the energy and soul of Afrobeats music with the refreshing taste of wines and spirits from around the DMV.
The event started at 3 PM instead of 2 PM due to a weather advisory. There was a short period of rain, but once it stopped, guests were able to resume enjoying the beautiful festivities.
The festival gave the spotlight to singers and DJs in the US Afrobeats scene. DJ Neptune, DJ Rozay, DJ P Smoov, DJ Sam I Am, and many other talented DJs kept the crowd engaged with hits from Burna Boy and Davido. African flags were hung all across the venue as guests danced and sang along to their favorite Afrobeats tunes.
DMV MC, Raro Lae, hosted the event and hyped up the crowd before the talent hit the stage.
Another feature of the festival was that it put Black owned wineries and distilleries at the forefront. In addition to that, there were a variety of Black owned businesses present. From cake and jollof rice to dresses and holistic products, guests could buy anything there. Black businesses owners spoke about the importance of events that platform Black businesses like this.
Keith Breland, owner of Cask & Cane Caribbean Rum, is a veteran who served 20 years in the military. The former lieutenant colonel emphasized how difficult it is to get into the distillery business.
Breland said, “ I go around doing a lot of Black owned events to not only get my brand out there, but to get the information to be successful in this industry from people who have been doing this way before I do.”
Ferguson said, ‘Events like Afrobeats are important because they get us out to the community, they get us out in front of the people that support the Black owned brands that are on the market right now. We love these types of events.”
Kenyan Hicks is the founder and head distiller of Noire Distillery, a brand known for its Noire Expedition American Gin. Hicks uses his gin brand to tell the story of Moses Godfrey, his oldest ancestor dating back to slavery. Hicks celebrates his journey to freedom through the drink.
Hicks stressed the need for events that platform Black distilleries like his.
Hicks said, “The spirits industry is somewhere around less than a full percentage point Black owned. So events like this allow people to see themselves in the brands.”
The Afrobeats & Wine Festival will push innovation in Black music and business for years to come.
Written by Philip Kulubya