Detroit hip hop artist and activist Khary WAE Fraizer has a lot on his plate nowadays. In addition to being the President of the Detroit chapter of the Hip Hop Congress, a busy community advocate and performing with his band General Population, he is also plays a key role in organizing the first annual Long Summer Nights music festival to be held in Detroit on August 22. For Fraizer, who was reared with a Pan-African worldview, the paths of community activism and artistic talent converge intrinsically to influence the masses.
Hip Hop activist and festival organizer Khary WAE Fraizer. Photo- Khary WAE Fraizer
“Music and art play a key role in moving people,” said Fraizer. “Because the best speech in the world given by whomever, can’t be internalized the same way you can take (Marvin Gaye’s) ‘Mercy Mercy Me’ or ‘What’s Going On’ and apply the message to the ordinary man.”
Fraizer, 26, sees the need for the appreciation of art in a city that is beleaguered by a set of problems: political corruption, ubiquitous crime and residents leaving the city for greener pastures and more job opportunities. He asserts that art, especially music, can inspire people to do better for themselves.
“The live music movement here is very strong,” he said. “I would like the people who come to have an appreciation for the artistry on the stage. There is a sense of hopelessness…a fresh breath is needed.”
The location of the festival on Detroit’s west side was chosen by Fraizer in efforts to bring a musical event that is different from places people are used to going for festivals.
“I am used to performing in areas like Ann Arbor, Birmingham and Pontiac,” he said. “There is a lot of Downtown Detroit stuff, but nothing really in the heart of the community. We as musicians usually don’t get the opportunity to offer inside the community this type of show.”
Hot Summer Nights will take place at Focus: HOPE at 1355 Oakman Blvd in Detroit from 2pm-8pm. This free family event will feature the talents of Blues musician Paul Miles, Latin soul singer Lola Morales, Jazz artists WoJamm and Shiron Denise and Hip Hop group General Population. For more information, visit www.generalpopulation.org.