As the birthplace of the nation, Philly’s history roots run deep — and, black history is no exception.
Philadelphia has been called home by some of the most pivotal figures in African American entertainment, past and present. Jazz great John Coltrane, classical music diva Marianne Anderson, The Sound of Philadelphia producers Gamble & Huff, R&B/Soul diva Jill Scott, and mega-star Will Smith, all got their start right here on the streets of Philly.
So, it’s no surprise that during the month of February, the city comes alive with tons of concerts, exhibits, and creative programs celebrating Black History Month. Whether you’re looking for family fun at the African American Museum, a late night jazz jam at popular soul food joint Warmdaddy’s, or hoping to catch dinner and a Broadway show on the Avenue of the Arts — Philly 360° has got you covered.
We’re jump-starting your Black History Month celebration with a few can’t-miss events. Check out our top picks for a Black History Month experience that only Philly can provide.
Black History Month Top Picks:
Black History Celebration With Jeff Bradshaw & Laurin Talese
When: Friday, February 7 & Saturday, February 8, 7:30 & 10 p.m. shows
Where: Warmdaddy’s, 1400 S. Columbus Blvd.
More Info: warmdaddys.com
Jeff Bradshaw has lent his smokin’ hot horns to some of the top names in the industry, including The Roots, Jill Scott, Jay Z, and Michael Jackson, just to name a few. To celebrate Black History Month, Jeff is bringing his A-game to Warmdaddy’s for two amazing nights of jazz and feel-good soul. And, he’s not coming alone. Both nights Jeff will be joined on stage by the smooth and sultry jazz tones of BASSic Black Entertainment singer/songwriter Laurin Talese.
Black History Month @ AAAMP
When: Through February
Where: The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Cost: $14 admission, $10 students/youth
More Info: aampmuseum.org
For the entire month of February, The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is buzzing with black history month happenings for the entire family. AAMP will kick off its month-long series of programs on February 1, with a screening of the award-winning documentary The Contradictions of Fair Hope, which is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and scored by Christian McBride. On February 8, museum guests will explore the languages, music, and religions of South Africa with Zulu native Godfrey Sithole. And, on February 22, the talented members of the Tiberino family will give an intimate tour their work in the AAMP’s exciting new exhibit, The Unflinching Eye: Works of the Tiberino Family.
Yinka Shonibare, MBE: Magic Ladders
When: Through April 25
Where: The Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost: $22 adults, $10 students, Free for members
More Info: barnesfoundation.org
In January, The Barnes Foundation opened Magic Ladders, featuring work by international art sensation Yinka Shonibare, MBE. A British artist of Nigerian descent, Shonibare’s colorful and thought-provoking work has been shown all across the US and Europe, and explores European art and history through the lens of race, colonialization, slavery and commerce. The exhibit includes approximately 15 of Shonibare’s colorful and and imaginative creations, including paintings, photographs, a full-room installation, and his signature life-sized mannequins dressed in colorful Dutch wax fabrics produced in Europe, but most closely associated with Africa.
Art After 5 @ PMA
When: Friday, February 5, 5 p.m.
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost: Free with museum admission
More Info: philamuseum.org
Swing into the Black History Month festivities, as Dandy Wellington and his band set the mood with Mood Indigo: A Harlem Renaissance Retrospective, part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Art After 5 program. The special set at PMA features compositions jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and others.
Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess
When: February 18 – 23
Where: Academy of Music, Broad & Locust Streets
Cost: Ticket prices vary
More Info: kimmelcenter.org
Written in 1935, Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess was the first musical in history to use an entire cast of classically-trained African Americans — a daring choice for the time. Now, the 2012 Tony winner for Best Revival of a Musical, comes to the Academy of Music in a stunning production that includes the legendary songs “Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and other classic hit songs.
Roger Lee Dance: First Annual Black History Celebration
When: Friday, February 21 & Saturday, February 22, 8 p.m.
Where: The Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street
More Info: Click here to buy tickets online.
Philly-based choreographer Roger Lee explodes on the scene with his First Annual Black History Celebration Concert at The Performance Garage in Fairmount. The emerging dance company will pay tribute to black history, exploring the hardship of slavery and segregation, while looking at black dance’s influence on urban culture through the lens of soul, pop, and rock music.