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East Orange, NJ, April 12, 2017 — The City of East Orange and the Arts Council of East Orange announces GRAMMY-Nominated performers Eric Roberson, Bilal and Syleena Johnson. The 3rd Annual Mac Festival will take place on Saturday, June 17, 2017, from 12pm-8pm at 44 City Hall Plaza, East Orange, NJ.
The event, hosted by special guest and South Orange, NJ native A.J. Calloway, will feature live music, vendors from the Tri-State area, specialty food trucks, a Kidz Corner, arts demonstrations, a beer and wine garden and more! Admission is free and open to the public.
“Our city is successfully undergoing an urban renewal fueled by a growing arts and culture scene right in the heart of our Transit Village and our arts and cultural district at Lower Main Street. This festival is a wonderful combination of what East Orange is and what it has the potential to be,” said Mayor Lester E. Taylor III. “We are hoping to attract festival lovers from across the region to experience East Orange.”
Last year’s festival featured R&B Songstresses Vivian Green and Sunshine Anderson, Hip Hop Pioneer Rah Digga, Vocalists Aaron Camper, Roxanna Lynn, Jacqueline Constance, Music by DJ Jon Quick, DJ Omar Abdallah, DJ Freeez, and more.
Rahway, NJ native and singer, songwriter, and producer Eric Roberson (affectionately known as “Erro” by friends and fans) continues to break boundaries in an industry predominantly influenced by major record labels, manufactured sounds, and mainstream radio. His countless achievements as an independent artist has established him as a leader in which he has been able to reach levels of great success once never imaginable by an unsigned artist. Eric has achieved major milestones in his career, from being a successful songwriter and producer for notable artists such as Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Dwele, Vivian Green and countless others, as well as headlining sold-out tours across the country.
An outstanding storyteller, Eric’s music is relatable, allowing him to form personal connections with each of his listeners. His music is influenced by elements of music styles varying from Soul, Rhythm & Blues, House, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Rock and more, inhibiting him from being confined or limited to any one genre of music. His music is personal, poetic, positive and progressive. It is classic music presented in an untraditional fashion. All of these factors, paired with a humble, inspiring, and inviting spirit, has earned Eric the love and respect of each of his fans one by one, cultivating a fan base that has shown an unbelievable level of support throughout the years.
If there was one R&B artist for whom the neo-soul categorization seemed limiting, it was Philadelphia native Bilal. None of his recordings resembled the sycophantic worship of soul artists who thrived in the '60 and '70s, and it wasn't just because his voice -- classically trained, capable of singing opera in seven languages -- was so unique. While some inspirations were detectable, his recordings were wholly modern and became increasingly creative. His individuality led to being dropped from a major label, and he went several years without releasing any solo material. Through evangelism from his peers and word of mouth from his early fans, Bilal gained an insatiable following and was supported by sympathetic independent labels, where he was finally able to thrive creatively.
Grenique's Black Butterfly, a 1999 release on Motown, was the first major album to feature Bilal's vocals; he contributed to three songs. The following year, he established a deep connection to hip-hop by appearing on Common's Like Water for Chocolate and Guru's third Jazzmatazz album. These recordings led him into the Soulquarians, a rotating collective of collaborators who included Common, Jay Dee (aka J Dilla), the Roots' Ahmir Thompson, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Q-Tip, and Raphael Saadiq within its ranks.
GRAMMY nominated vocalist and writer Syleena Johnson is one of the greatest singers and performers of her generation. She has scored major R&B hits and been invited to collaborate with the likes of Kanye West, R. Kelly and Musiq Soulchild.
Syleena’s last album Couples Therapy dealt with love and relationships. As with all of her projects, Syleena gave us a heartfelt glimpse into where she is within her own journey and her private life. The project embodied Syleena’s relentless passion for songwriting. Johnson, wrote/ co-wrote all of the tracks. The album opened with the upbeat and lyrically honest song “All This Way For Love.”
Leela James accompanies Syleena on the soulful 60’s throwback “Fool’s Gold”; and the incomparable Dave Hollister joins her on the moving and triumphant “Harmony.” The album production remains diverse and yet doesn’t venture too far off track. Vocally critics agree that this is one of Syleena’s strongest overall projects in years. Chapter 6: Couples Therapy has been made into a film that stars Johnson and the other collaborators from the album.
A South Orange, NJ native and Emmy-award winning journalist, AJ Calloway is the New York City correspondent for "Extra." AJ is at the center of all things entertainment in the Big Apple, interviewing the most talked about celebrities, athletes and notables in the world.
AJ began his television career in August 2000 when he secured a co-host position on B.E.T, and in September 2000 on "106 & Park, B.E.T's Top Ten Live," which remains B.E.T's most popular show to date, earning the network record-breaking ratings.
A proud and active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., AJ believes in giving back to the community. He serves on the Dean's Advisory Board for the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and he also speaks to youth around the country about the negative effects of drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex and the importance of entrepreneurship and leadership. He has been a guest lecturer at University of Missouri, West Virginia State, University of Florida, University of Delaware, University of Missouri, Nassau Community College, and Smith College, among others.
City Hall Plaza is conveniently located across from the East Orange Train Station and minutes from Brick Church Train Station with Mid-Town Direct Service to New York City.