On October 8, 2016, a rainy day, on my father’s birthday, Senator Anthony Hardy Williams, along with Councilwoman Janie Blackwell and the Black Women in Sports Foundation, brought back the Neighborhood to Neighborhood Festival (N2N) – a year-to-year outreach event that brings communities in Philadelphia together. In 1989, the festival began as a barbecue hosted by then State Representative Williams, and has since expanded. N2N has been instrumental in bringing communities together and putting Philadelphia’s rich artistic legacy on display. In an effort to holistically serve communities, the festival invited representatives from Keystone Health and Gateway Health. Additionally, the festival has boasted a strong musical lineup in years past with performances from Chaka Khan, Musiq Soulchild, Robin Thicke, Kindred The Family Soul and others. This year, the festival welcomed Common and Philadelphia’s own, Chill Moody to the main stage on the corners of 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue.
To kick off the event, radio host Patty Jackson took the stage. She introduced some of the local performers that came from all across the city. She also took the time to introduce Senator Williams, Councilwoman Blackwell, and other politicians from Philly. After Ms. Jackson MC'd half of the show, upcoming comedian TuRae took over for the second part of the concert. Charming the crowd with some of his punchlines, the show took a turn when acts such as Nadejah Nicole, Chill Moody, and for the headliner rap legend and actor, Common. Nadejah Nicole is known for being on the TV sensation The Voice for 10 weeks straight. She has also been praised as “Delaware Artist of the Year.” Her soulful voice warmed up to what was going to be a special performance from West Philadelphia upcoming rap artist, Chill Moody.
Chill Moody engaged the crowd with the guitar and bass driven band, playing songs such as “November Funk” and “Chains.” Moody has received high praise, and was been named “Best Rapper” by Philadelphia Magazine. Selling out venues both locally and nationally, Chill Moody is out to to put Philadelphia on the map as “The center of Hip Hop.” But even beyond Hip-Hop, Chill Moody’s goal is to put out good music. Backed by a 4-piece band which included Eugene “Man Man” Roberts, keyboardist and musical director for John Legend, Moody performed songs with rich melodies that reached neighborhood all across the area surrounding the festival. Chill Moody is ready to be the next of Philly. Support this artist and his art!
As the festival was coming to a near end, all of West Philadelphia awaited the headliner. Born on the South Side of Chicago, Common came to the stage to perform some of his classic songs such “The People” and “I Used to Love H.E.R.” among others. What really made the performance special was his ability to perform such soul-inspiring songs that drove into the hearts and minds of the audience. Common embodied the struggle of the moment, discussing all of what’s going in the world. It was vital for him to urge the people to understand black struggle and injustice that happens every day. His humility to interact was really the most engaging part of his act. Something people in attendance will never forget. As he began to end his set, he reminds people to come together, be peaceful and go vote. Common rounded out his set by announcing his forthcoming album entitled “Black America Again.” Be on the look out!
In my opinion, this festival has brought out the very best of people and brought people of all communities together. It is important that we embrace moments where love and support are at the center. America can and should do better. Politics, and politicians, alone can't make this happen. It also starts with the people changing themselves. Learn from yourself. From life experience. Gain wisdom from them so it can help during the long run. It needs to be done for the better of America. I say this could make America better, not great again.
This piece was done by Zachary Collier. You can check out my blog here.