HOUSTON – Performing artists, Eric Benet, Tamia, Elle Varner, Young Lyric and a host of others will be live on September 30, at Discovery Green – Houston Downtown Park. The Houston Black Heritage Music and Arts Festival in partnership with, EBONY Media Operations will celebrate its 3rd annual event. The festival will feature an interactive youth zone, band and step competition from local Houston high schools, amidst other activities. In wake of the recent catastrophic events of Hurricane Harvey, organizers are anticipating that this festival will help uplift the spirits’ of Houstonians and provide a refreshing outpouring to all affected. A portion of the proceeds received will benefit students of Texas Southern University, the alma mater of Founder, Richard Andrews.
What is the Houston Black Heritage Music and Arts Festival?
The Houston Black Heritage Music and Arts Festival (HBHMAF) is an, “all-day cultural affair that features inspirational speakers, Black exhibits, nationally-renowned musicians, artists, spoken word and craftspeople, both locally and nationally.” The celebration was designed to, “promote historical and cultural solidarity.” While the inception of this festival dates back to over a decade, it has officially premiered for three years. Thus, it has become a glorious experience, which accommodates a gallery of events for all ages. It educates in the areas of Health & Wellness, financial empowerment and uplifts self-expression; while incorporating, “the unique blend of African and African-American style and culture”.
Exclusive Interview with Founder Richard Andrews, of the Houston Black Heritage Music & Arts Festival
Behind the Scenes: Inspiration through Music
Richard Andrews hails from the small community of Amite, located in the Tangipahoa Parish of Louisiana. At an early age, he developed a passion for music. Stemming from a large family, he recalls his grandfather hosting weekend dance contests. Family members and locals from the area would gather to participate in what he describes as a, “love-fest”. From the exuberant joy that he saw demonstrated, he became fascinated with the spirit of music. Furthermore, he would often walk miles to various events throughout the parish, as a child to see famed entertainers. He shared that he once journeyed six miles as an adolescent to an outdoor concert. Upon his arrival, the organizers welcomed him behind the scenes and he fell in love with the orchestration he witnessed. Later in his life, these experiences served as contributing influences into the work that he would perform.
In the early 90’s, Andrews relocated to Houston. Upon entrance, he began promoting hip-hop artists from Louisiana, such as DJ Jimi and others. This privileged him with the opportunity to be one of the first to introduce, “Bounce music”, to the Astro City. Nevertheless, he stills accredits those early years of watching great entertainers perform, which transitioned into an interest in promoting. He said, “I enjoyed seeing those huge concerts and festivals, everybody was smiling and having a good time. I didn’t see no arguing and it was just a love-fest to me, and that never left my mind.” He continued, “Watching people dancing along with the artists and just enjoying themselves to the fullest; I knew one day that I was going to be in a position to put on events like those, on a wide scale. So, that’s where the music part of it originated.”
Designed through Culture
Later on in his life, Andrews was selected to act in a play known as, The Harlem Renaissance. He was featured in The Harlem Renaissance, for three years. His role in the performance, spiked his curiosity into the, “Golden Age of Harlem”. Through his infatuation with the Renaissance experience, he commenced on a five-year tour to Harlem. Enthralled by the “big-band, music, art and poetic scenes” of the Renaissance, Andrews was inspired to incorporate this cultural design into the festival that he would later introduce to Houston. He said, “I knew that I wanted to bring all of this in the form of a festival, but I didn’t know the name. While I was on Lennox Avenue, the name Black Heritage Fest, came to me and stuck with me.” “So, I wanted to promote all of the beautiful things that people were doing in Houston and give back to my alma mater; that’s how all of this was created,” he added.
Influenced by Health
In recent years, Andrews was faced with the burdensome task of losing five family members to breast cancer. More recently, his 43-year-old brother succumbed to a tiresome battle with lung cancer. Heavily impacted by these losses, Andrews maintains that he had to create a platform that would raise awareness and touch lives. Thus, he felt compelled to implement a Health & Wellness forum into the HBHMAF.
All of these varying factors helped to evolve the Houston Black Heritage Music and Arts Festival into what it has become today. Andrews says, “Houston is a world-class city. It’s a melting pot! Black is the essence from which all colors come from. Heritage, honor, pride, dignity and respect, makes me think about people like: Mickey Leland, Barbara Johnson and Mr. Conrad Johnson; who inspired so many people at Kashmere, in the form of music. Music is universal. Sometimes when you’re in a certain mood, all you need to uplift your spirit is to, listen to a certain song and you’re up and running again. Art is a form of self-expression and all these, are where the name is derived from.”
Though Andrews has been in Houston for over a couple of decades, he has never forgotten his roots. He believes that it is important to embrace heritage and culture. He shared, “Texas and Louisiana are like brothers and sisters. You have a lot of people from Louisiana that live in Houston now. Just look at what happened during Hurricane Katrina. Houston opened their arms and people came and it was just a love-fest. Even more, recently witnessing the actions demonstrated during Hurricane Harvey, it reminded me of the heart of Houston… People didn’t care what color you were, where you were from, they just gave you a hand. They just went into people’s houses and saved them. So to me, that’s love right there and we want to keep that going during this festival.”
While in Louisiana, Andrews dropped out of college. However, once he realized the importance of education in his career path he re-enrolled at Texas Southern University. As a result, he has earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. He was determined to aspire to a higher level professionally and simultaneously accomplished his academic goals, while engineering the HBHMAF.
Concluding, Andrews says, “African-Americans have a glorious history and are a resilient people. That blood runs in my veins as well and it’s just beautiful to promote that.” He encourages the African-American community to come together and support one another. “We have gone through so much over the years and came out stronger; it takes a village for us to really thrive. So we need to keep on keeping on and be an example to our youth,” he added.
HBHMAF is grateful for the partnership of its sponsors which include: EBONY, Day Edwards Agency, KTSU 90.9, Frenchy’s Chicken, Bud Light, Yelp, The City of Houston, Houston Arts Alliance, African-American News & Issues, Houston Style Magazine, KYND 1520, Larry Green Houston City Council District K, Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Compassion and the Principle Partnering Group, LLC, just to list a few. Additionally, Andrews offered a word of appreciation to, Mr. Darryl King. He says, “King has been a huge supporter of this event, since day one and I can’t thank him enough.” Andrews also acknowledges two of his professors from his alma mater; Dr. Cabil and Dr. Reynolds, who were very instrumental in encouraging him in the formation of the HBHMAF.
For more information or details about the HBHMAF visit www.houstonblackheritagefestival.com or contact (832) 651-8135.