How important is capturing the spirit and rich cultural history of African Americans in the Greater Houston area? It is important enough to see a young Black man from another city come to Houston and embrace Houston’s rich Black history by starting an annual event that has significantly made its mark all across the Greater Houston area.
The Houston Black Heritage Music & Arts Festival (HBHMAF), which is celebrating its fourth year, is an all-weekend cultural experience that promotes diversity and cultural sensitivity filled with performances, art, guest speakers, exhibits, poets, crafts people and world-renown musical entertainers. Traditionally a one day affair, this year’s Festival will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, August 11-12, 2018 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. The Festival is expected to draw over 50,000 attendees.
The HBHMAF promotes historical and cultural solidarity. This two-day experience has something for everyone, from health & wellness education, financial empowerment, self-expression all within the unique blend of African and African-American style, and much more.
Houston Black Heritage Music & Arts Festival Founder Richard Andrews is the visionary for this outstanding Festival and believes God entrusted him with the idea of having it.
“I had been dreaming about this event most of my life,” said Andrews. “When I moved to Houston over 20 years ago, I visited The Shrine of The Black Madonna bookstore and fell in love with our Black History. After reading how the Late Reverend Jack Yates, along with his church congregation, saved almost $1000 to purchase Emancipation Park in order to hold the ‘Colored People’s Festival’, that took me on a spiritual journey to do all I could to promote Black culture in a major way.”
Andrews states that in a city that has a melting pot as rich as Houston, that is often lauded for its celebration of diversity, he was inspired to embark upon a journey to share Black culture in an unprecedented manner, by highlighting and celebrating the contributions of Black Americans that are a major part of the international fabric of the city of Houston as well.
“I can recall many places, events, and festivities in the past that I attended in Houston that highlighted people and cultures from all around the world, and while those things were exciting, I didn’t see Black culture as a major part of it,” said Andrews. “When I got that vision, I knew it was the start of something very special.
The official launch of the HBHMAF in 2014 was the culmination of over 10 years of hard work and consistently building relationships.
Since the beginning of the Festival, Andrews has been relentlessly focused on building a great event. He attributes the Festival’s overall success to the relationships he built in Houston, especially the relationship he established at the very beginning with the Forward Times.
“Back in early 2014, I met with Jeff Boney and Karen Carter Richards with the Forward Times and we had many brainstorming sessions regarding the overall focus of the Festival which included a focus on logistics, deadlines and establishing a realistic timeline,” said Andrews. “We formed a real force and never looked back. I started going to all type of events with Jeff and Karen, where they introduced me to all sorts of people like the Mayor of Houston, elected officials like the late Council Member Larry Green, community leaders and many local businesses who became supporters of the festival. Needless to say, it would’ve undoubtedly taken us a lot longer to birth this event if not for the help of the Forward Times. I am most honored to continue having their support.”
Although he is not a native Houstonian, Andrews has a heart for the city and the Black culture it possesses. He relocated to Houston in the early 1990’s from the neighboring state of Louisiana, where he had previously been an entertainment promoter. Seeing the excitement and large participation from Black people at various concerts, festivals and major Black cultural events gave Andrews the passion and vision to put on an event like the one he launched in Houston.
Andrews states that while he has found success with the HBHMAF, it is not an easy undertaking. He says that finding the right venue suitable for any outdoor cultural festival in Houston has presented challenges, particularly because of the uncertainty of what the weather will be like. This is why he has moved the event from outdoors at Discovery Green to inside the guaranteed weatherproof confines of the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Another huge challenge that Andrews has faced has been selecting a draw as an entertainment headliner. Talent sells tickets, so getting the necessary resources to make the right decision on who to select as the right talent has been a learning experience and a growing process.
Andrews wants the community to know that all aspects of Black culture will be on display from August 11-12, and is encouraging everyone to come out and take part in the festivities.
“Of course we will have top-notch talent at the event, as we welcome five-time Grammy-award winning musical artist Lalah Hathaway, Stokley Williams of Mint Condition and world-renowned Zydeco music artist J. Paul, but we have so much more to offer Houston,” said Andrews. “We have Black art at the festival, because Black art told the story of the Black experience. If you look at people such as the late Dr. John Biggers, who along with students and the art department, painted such beautiful murals right here in this great city at Texas Southern University. But we don’t just stop at art, there’s also fashion, health and education.”
In addition to all of the things Andrews aforementioned, the Festival will also include a FREE Interactive Kids Zone with tons of games and activities; a Health and Wellness Zone; a Fashion Culture & Heritage Show; the first annual Houston Honors Awards ceremony; a Rebuilding After Harvey Day of Service; and much more.
For more information about the Houston Black Heritage Music & Arts Festival (HBHMAF) or to purchase tickets, please visit www.houstonblackheritagefest.com.