Grammy winning R&B sensation Faith Evans was the first headliner for the Founders Weekend Festival.

And what a way to kick off the weekend celebrating Newark’s 350th birthday!  The rain came and relocated the event indoors from Military Park to Newark Symphony Hall that brought the party indoors for a night we’ll never forget!

Hosted by Newark’s own J.D. Williams – who played Bodie on HBO’s hit series, “The Wire” – the night was all Newark’s.  The energy was up from the beginning and never seemed to end.  DJ Felix Hernandez got the crowd bouncing, playing Newark favorites across funk, R&B, and house music.  It didn’t take much before the aisles were filled with people laughing, smiling, and dancing with one another.

Founder’s Weekend Festival Audience

Once the crowd was up and grooving, the Brick City Soul Collective took the stage to play a live set of great music.  On the trumpet was bandleader James Gibbs III, accompanied by Cliff Kee on the bass guitar, Mike Parker on the keyboard, and his son,Maurice Parker on the drums.  We grooved to hits from Earth Wind & Fire to Prince to Jill Scott to Stevie Wonder.  Who could sit down with all of that great music??

And then came Faith…

So much can be said about her performance.  But before she started to sing, she paid homage to her hometown of Newark and made it known that wherever she is in the world, she claims New Jersey as home.  Shout out to the South Ward!

Faith sang hit after hit after hit and we all sung along as she performed songs like “Soon As I Get Home”.  And the voice?  Let’s just share this.   Washington Post writer Craig Seymour called her “angelic, hearty soprano.”

And we’re happy to call her Newark’s own.