Newark will be filled with music again this summer as NJPAC’s much-loved free outdoor concert series, Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City, returns with in-person performances on the Arts Center’s Chambers Plaza starting July 15.

Felix Hernandez’ Rhythm Revue Dance Party kicks off the seven-week series, which will spotlight a diverse array of musicians and genres, including hip hop legends Eric B. & Rakim, salsa star Tony Vega, reggae headliners Third World and gospel songstress Le’Andria Johnson.

The concerts will be presented with an array of new safety protocols, to allow audience members to enjoy the music, mingling and dancing that’s made this annual event so popular, while keeping patrons, artists and Arts Center staff healthy.

Sounds of the City is a legacy series in Newark; for more than 20 years, this is how the city has celebrated summer,” said NJPAC Executive Vice President and Executive Producer David Rodriguez.

“This year, what we’re celebrating is not just the season but also the return of live performances to Newark. It’s our intention to ensure these events are not only fun, but safe.”

An NJPAC tradition, Horizon Foundation Sounds of City concerts have brought thousands of revelers to the Arts Center’s Chambers Plaza for free concerts on Thursday evenings every July and August. Last year, with NJPAC’s campus closed during the coronavirus pandemic, the Arts Center transformed the series into a weekly live DJ dance party streamed on Facebook.

“While all of us at NJPAC are incredibly proud of the range of virtual events we’ve been able to offer this past year, we know that there’s nothing like the energy and excitement of a live performance,” said John Schreiber, the Arts Center’s President and CEO.

“We cannot wait to welcome our audiences back to NJPAC in person, and especially to this wonderful series, which has always been a joyful way for us to connect with and celebrate our Greater Newark community.”

This year, as New Jersey residents have adhered to health guidelines and COVID-19 transmission rates are down, the series will return as a live, in-person outdoor event, with several new safety measures in place, including:

  • Concerts will be held within a gated outdoor enclosure. Capacity within the enclosure will be significantly limited, to ensure that attendees are able to remain socially distanced, with six feet between each group;
  • Access to the concert area will be offered on a first-come basis;
  • All concert-goers must be masked throughout the event;
  • Attendees will have their temperature checked (with contactless thermometers) at the concert area entry gate;
  • All attendees must complete a questionnaire on NJPAC’s health screening app before accessing the concert area;
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the Plaza;
Food and beverages will be available for purchase in specially designated areas, where patrons will be allowed to remove masks. Bags and backpacks will not be allowed in the concert area.

Reggae, R&B, hip hop and salsa music will all be part of this year’s series, which will include returning favorites as well as exciting new artists for audiences to discover. The concerts are scheduled from 6 to 8:30 p.m. each Thursday, from July 15 through August 26.

The series’ title sponsor, Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, is the charitable arm of Newark-based Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

“We all know that part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes relaxing, socializing and getting up on our feet — and there’s no better way to do all those things than by moving to the music at a Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City concert. We’re so glad that this series will be a part of how Newark enjoys the summer season once again, and we are all committed to ensuring that everyone can take part in this fantastic event safely,” said Gary D. St. Hilaire, President and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ.

The Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City concert series is made possible through a special collaboration of NJPAC, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and generous sponsors RWJBarnabas Health and Mars Wrigley.

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