Afro Nation Miami’s Inaugural Festival: Burna Boy, Asake, Wizkid, and More Illuminate the Stage
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Afro Nation Miami’s Inaugural Festival: Burna Boy, Asake, Wizkid, and More Illuminate the Stage

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The Afro Nation Festival made a spirited debut in Miami over Memorial Day weekend, captivating audiences at the 40,000 capacity LoanDepot Park (formerly Marlins Park). With Burna Boy headlining day one and Wizkid taking center stage on day two, Afro Nation Miami exuded an undeniable African essence, seamlessly blending afrobeats, amapiano, and reggae.

The festival boasted two distinctive stages: the Audiomack Amapiano stage showcased eclectic South African sounds, while the MainStage reverberated with afrobeats and reggae. Mavado, Shenseea, and a diverse array of other artists mesmerized the crowd with their captivating performances in the dancehall and reggae genres. Afrobeats enthusiasts were treated to a plethora of choices, including Asake, Black Sherif, Rema, Fireboy DML, and the charismatic Uncle Waffles (a female artist). The festival grounds brimmed with energy as African vendors tantalized taste buds with delectable delights, while people danced with unrestrained joy.

Day one kicked off with a vibrant performance by the emerging artist Cuhdeejah on the Audiomack Amapiano stage. Backed by a troupe of dancers, the Sierra Leonean-American singer unleashed her latest collaboration with none other than Snoop Dogg, “Bad Mama Jama.” Reflecting on her performance, Cuhdeejah expressed her profound gratitude, stating, “Having the power to captivate and move people with my words is an extraordinary gift.”

Later in the day, 21-year-old Ghanaian highlife singer Black Sherif illuminated the main stage with his debut single, “First Sermon,” its sequel, “Second Sermon,” and a repertoire of fan favorites like “Kwaku the Traveller.” Overwhelmed by the moment, Black Sherif marveled, “Moments like this feel surreal because a few short years ago, only my household knew I could sing. Now, I’m overseas, and people are singing my lyrics back to me. I am immensely proud to be part of the generation reshaping the cultural landscape.”

As day one unfolded, Asake delivered a mesmerizing set, infusing his songs with jazzy vibes and inspiring multiple singalongs. He also teased his upcoming album, “Work of Art” (releasing on June 16), which features a collaboration with Olamide on the track “Amapiano.” Simultaneously, at the Audiomack Amapiano stage, South African DJ Uncle Waffles commanded a massive crowd with her Boiler Room-esque set, seamlessly blending moments of leaving the DJ booth to perform intricate choreography with her legion of dancers.

Burna Boy concluded day one with an explosive performance, igniting the stage with a high-octane set comprising his chart-topping hits like “Ye,” “On the Low,” and “Last Last.” The set, a condensed version of his “Love, Damini” tour, featured a heartwarming moment as he invited Black Sherif back to the MainStage for a joint rendition of their remix of “Second Sermon,” evoking a palpable sense of camaraderie between the two artists.

Day two sustained the electrifying energy with captivating sets from Shenseea, Rema, Fireboy DML, and Major League DJz. Rema, currently achieving global success with his single “Calm Down” (featuring Selena Gomez, currently No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100), closed his set with the track, prompting fans to sing along passionately with every line.

Finally, Wizkid brought the festival to a breathtaking close with an exhilarating set and a visually stunning stage production. Emerging from a digital LED structure reminiscent of a towering brownstone apartment, Wizkid delivered hit after hit, including “Ojuelegba,” “Essence,” and “Mood,” casting a mesmerizing spell over the crowd. He even brought out his friend and fellow Afro Nation performer, Bnxn, adding an extra layer of excitement to the performance.

Looking ahead, Afro Nation will continue its journey, heading to Detroit on August 19-20 before triumphantly returning to Ghana in December.

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