City Parks Foundation is thrilled to return to live, in-person performances this summer with the announcement of the shows planned for the 2021 season of Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage, New York City’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival.
This year’s festival will showcase renowned artists and rising stars with an important tie to New York City. SummerStage shows will be returning to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and The Coney Island Amphitheater, presenting distinctly New York genres including hip-hop, Latin, indie rock, contemporary dance, jazz, and global music.
The annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival will return for two days at Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park/Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in August. Performances will be live-streamed on SummerStageAnywhere.org, artist approval and rights permitting. A digital season brochure is available now at SummerStage.org.
The 2021 SummerStage season will open with a free concert featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on Thursday, June 17 in Central Park. Since the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra was founded in 1988, the group’s historical bent has blossomed, paying particular attention to the Duke Ellington oeuvre as well as works by Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, and many others. The New York-based orchestra is made up of 15 of the finest soloists, ensemble players, and arrangers in jazz music today. Free tickets are required for entry; ticket reservations will be open for request on Monday, June 7 at 12:00PM ET.
Celebrate Juneteenth in Harlem with a free, outdoor screening of Summer of Soul presented by Target in association with Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage, NYC Parks’ Historic Harlem Parks and Jazzmobile.
The special advance screening will be followed by live performances at The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park featuring Questlove and surprise guests.
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, highlights the story of the momentous 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which took place in Marcus Garvey Park, featuring never-before-seen footage from the massive concert series that was – until now – virtually eliminated from the history books.
The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and was met with rave reviews, taking home both the grand jury prize and the audience award. Summer of Soul will stream on Hulu in conjunction with Disney General Entertainment’s Onyx Collective; Searchlight Pictures will release it theatrically on July 2, 2021. Free tickets are required for entry; ticket reservations will be open for request on Monday, June 7 at 12:00 PM ET.
This season emphasizes our city’s rebirth and resilience illustrated by the many free performances planned, especially Sun Ra Arkestra, who performed at the inaugural SummerStage concert at the Central Park Bandshell in 1986, and symbolizes our festival’s rebirth after a year’s hiatus.
Considered the pioneer of Afrofuturism, this jazz group will make its return to Central Park joined alongside female jazz ensemble Sistazz of the Nitty Gritty on July 24. July 25 will recognize New York’s position as the dance capital of the world with Dance IS!, an evening featuring some of our city’s brightest dance talents, including artists from Rennie Harris Puremovement, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Parsons Dance, A.I.M, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with special guest Madison McFerrin, and Soles of Duende with guest artist Asha Griffith.
On July 31, New York DJ legends The Originals will make their triumphant return to SummerStage with a joyous dance party celebration.
The formidable collective of true New York tastemakers has dominated the nightlife scene for over 30 years.
New York’s favorite salsa star and SummerStage alum, Tito Nieves, aka “El Pavarotti de la Salsa,” will perform on August 1. The Puerto Rican-born and New York-raised musician became one of the leading salsa singers of the 1980s and the early 1990s with an enduring legacy that remains relevant today. One of New York’s most iconic cultural institutions, the Metropolitan Opera will return to Central Park for it’s 12th year on August 8.
The company will present a Summer Recital featuring Met Opera Stars in an evening of arias and duets from some of opera’s most beloved works.
New York City-based electronic musician and internet sensation Marc Rebillet, known for his improvisational sets and comedic lyrics, will be joined by some of his previous collaborators, the iconic DJ and record producer DJ Premier (D’Angelo, Nas, Kanye West) and Harlem bass player Brady Watt plus special guests on August 14. Incendiary Brooklyn-based rap duo Armand Hammer (Elucid and Billy Woods) and prolific hip-hop producer The Alchemist will take over SummerStage on August 15. They are joined by a group of close friends and collaborators featuringexperimental visionary Moor Mother, and R&B producers/singers KAYANA and Fielded. This standout group of artists recently collaborated on the widely celebrated album Haram. Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Antibalas, modeled after Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive Orchestra, will perform on August 21.
New York mainstay and pioneer Dom Salvador will perform with his Samba Jazz Sextet on September 4. Salvador, a jazz pianist, composer, and arranger who is credited as the founder of samba funk, has been the house musician at the River Cafe in DUMBO for over 40 years, one of NYC’s longest residencies. GRAMMY award-winning contemporary R&B, gospel singer, and New York City radio personality Erica Campbell will performon September 11. Campbell started her music career in 1998 as part of the chart-topping gospel group, Mary Mary.
On September 19, New York icon Patti Smith and her band will return to SummerStage. Smith’s brand of hard-nosed rock and roll was infused with the spirit of experimentation and free expression that made downtown Manhattan so exciting. Later in her career, she would establish herself as a crucial voice of activism, using her platform to speak out against unjust wars and oppression, and her songs have resonated with people around the globe. Smith will be joined by her band for an unforgettable evening under the stars in Central Park. More free Central Park shows will be announced in the coming weeks.
SummerStage is partnering with Rooftop Films for a free drive-in film and live performance at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens on June 24 in association with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr..
A free screening of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA)-winning Indian comedy-drama Monsoon Wedding, will follow a special live performance from GRAMMY-nominated, internationally recognized artist Falu, known for her modern inventive style and her formidable, classically-shaped vocal talent. Falu is currently an artist-in-residence at Carnegie Hall.
SummerStage is also partnering with Rooftop Films to feature short films prior to Central Park shows this season. Rooftop Films will curate programs of new short films from around the world, featuring the work of filmmakers whose voices and stories complement the featured musical performers and represent the vibrant international communities of our city.
The screenings will include official selections from Rooftop Films’ 25th anniversary Summer Series, the nation’s largest outdoor showcase for new independent films. Films will be announced at a later date.
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, SummerStage’s annual salute to the eponymous late saxophonist, will return for its 29th year with a weekend of live jazz in Harlem’s historic Marcus Garvey Park/Richard Rodgers Amphitheater. Running August 28 and 29, the festival will feature Jazziz Magazine’s 2007 Person of the Year, Donald Harrison and his quartet, performing “Charlie Parker with Strings” along with The Harlem Symphony Orchestra, on August 28, highlighting the historic visibility and contributions of African American orchestral instrumentalists.
On August 29, the Charlie Parker Centennial Celebration with music direction by leading drummer Willie Jones III in association with Jazz at Lincoln Center will feature an international and inter-generational lineup celebrating the global impact of Charlie Parker: Nicaraguan-born American jazz pianist and music composer Donald Vega; up-and-coming bassist Endea Owens, who won Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist award in 2019; Manhattan-born veteran alto saxophonist Justin Robinson;Japan-born, New York-based prodigy saxophonist Erena Terakubo;Harlem-born and Haitian-raised alto saxophonist Godwin Louis and NY-based up-and-coming, vibrant saxophonist Sarah Hanahan.
“We are so thrilled to bring SummerStage back for all New Yorkers to enjoy in-person, outside, in parks again this summer. The artists performing this summer represent a true sense of resiliency in their own art and deep connection to New York City,”
said Erika Elliott, Executive Artistic Director of SummerStage.
“While we continued to present artists of all genres for the past year with SummerStage Anywhere digitally, we are eager to provide artists the platform to perform to a live audience and to bring communities together to enjoy the live, spirited experience that is truly unique to our city and festival.”
SummerStage will be operating at modified production levels and performances will initially be held at a reduced capacity in all of our venues to abide by social distancing requirements. Free tickets are required for entry to every free SummerStage show this season.
Ticket pod requests must be made in advance through our online entry form. Forms will be available three (3) weeks prior to each show. Ticket request forms will open on Mondays at 12:00PM ET on the show specific webpage at SummerStage.org. Requesting a ticket does not guarantee entry, attendees who are selected at random will be emailed their ticket confirmation in advance of the show. Sign up for the SummerStage newsletter here for show information and ticket reservation reminders closer to show dates. As New York State and City safety guidelines for public gatherings are rapidly changing, City Parks Foundation will frequently update our audiences on venue safety protocols.
“This year’s SummerStage line-up reflects our city’s tenacity and spirit, its vibrancy and creativity. We are thrilled to be back.”
Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage in partnership with iStar will also return to the Seaside Park Community Arts Center & the Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn this summer for six free concerts.
Grammy-award-winning disco hitmaker Gloria Gaynor will be performing on July 17 with Harlem-via-East London selector DJ Stormin Norman, who brought mix shows to daytime radio in the 90’s on WBLS. Puerto Rican singer/songwriter and Latin Grammy Award-winner La India will take the stage on July 18 with a soon to-be-announced DJ. Before Celia Cruz would dub her the “Princess of Salsa,” La India got her start in the South Bronx, where she was a founding member of the Latin Freestyle group TKA. Multi-platinum R&B artist Ginuwine with special guests will celebrate legendary hip-hop DJ Funk Flex’s birthday on August 7.
An icon in the hip-hop community, Flex started his DJ career at sixteen in NYC nightclubs and now spins weekly for over 8,000 club-goers. On August 29, a special performance of INVINCIBLE: A Glorious tribute to Michael Jackson will take over the Coney Island stage. Hailed as the #1 Michael Jackson tribute show in the world, it features the world’s most authentic Jackson impersonators. The Bronx’s own, DJ KS 360, will be on hand to kick off the event. More SummerStage at the Coney Island Amphitheater shows will be announced at a later date.
As a women-run festival with a mission of diversity and inclusion, since 2019 SummerStage has helped to transform the future of the music industry by participating in the PRS Foundation’s international Keychange pledge, presenting an annual lineup that features a 50:50 gender balance. SummerStage is one of the few local festivals that has achieved this goal.
This year’s SummerStage season artwork is illustrated by Lyne Lucien. An award-winning Haitian artist based in Brooklyn, Lucien is an American Illustration Award Winner and a finalist for the Artbridge – Not a Monolith Residency. She has worked as a photo editor and art director at various publications including New York Magazine, The Daily Beast and Architectural Digest. Her drawings are rooted in community engagement and are influenced by the detals she noticed around her in the US and Haitian cities where she lived as a youngster. The complexities of color, form, and texture she uses in this year’s SummerStage design articulate the vivacity and diversity of NYC.
Capital One is the festival’s multi-year title sponsor (Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage) and the official bank and credit card of the festival.
“Capital One is proud to continue our long-standing support for SummerStage as the title sponsor,”
said Michael Slocum, President, Commercial Banking and Northeast Regional President, Capital One. “This city is resilient and free live music and dance performances bring neighborhoods to life. After a challenging year, we are committed to supporting New York City’s revival by sponsoring SummerStage performances and keeping them free and open for all New Yorkers to enjoy.”
For the most up-to-date lineup, follow SummerStage on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and visit SummerStage.org for festival information.
Performances will be live-streamed on SummerStageAnywhere.org, artist approval and rights permitting by Launch Inc. The company produces, captures, and streams live music and events in partnership with Hardwired.Tech who will debut a mobile, live broadcast studio at SummerStage this summer.
Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage is a proud member of the NYS Outdoor Performing Arts Coalition and the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA).