The concert celebrates Juneteenth, the holiday that marks the end of slavery in the US. Black artists who will take the stage Sunday night include Earth, Wind & Fire Khalid and Bell Biv Devoe and more.
Country phenom Mickey Guyton covered Marvin Gaye’s protest anthem “What’s Going On” and sang her original, Grammy-nominated single, “Black Like Me.” Poet Amir Sulaiman performed a powerful piece with a message to viewers: “You will be someone’s ancestor. Act accordingly.”
Vice President Kamala Harris appeared in a recorded message, as did former first lady Michelle Obama, who called on viewers to vote.
And yes, that was Beyoncé making a vocal cameo in a prerecorded segment on Opal Lee, the 95-year-old activist who worked to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. (More on Lee below.) Still to come is a message from President Joe Biden.
The entire creative team behind the concert is Black, CNN’s Sara Sidner reported ahead of the show, including creator Shawn Gee of Live Nation Urban and Jesse Collins Entertainment. The night also marks the first time an all-Black orchestra, Re-Collective Orchestra, will play the Hollywood Bowl, Sidner said.
The Re-Collective Orchestra performed with members of the Debbie Allen Dance Company, who performed a vibrant dance piece (and were introduced by Allen herself).
This is the second year the US has recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday, but many Black Americans have honored the date for years with parades, parties and family gatherings. The holiday is also an opportunity to reflect on the persisting systemic inequalities that Black Americans face.
The event honored the ‘grandmother of Juneteenth’
Lee said Americans should spend the holiday celebrating, learning and continuing to advocate for change.
“I advocate that we celebrate from the 19th of June to the 4th of July,” she said. “That would be celebrating freedom.”
CNN’s Harmeet Kaur and Chloe Melas contributed to this report.