Young, Gifted and Black: Summer 2013’s Fresh Films and Music

'Fruitvale Station' actors Michael B. Jordan and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer with director Ryan Coogler.

‘Fruitvale Station’ actors Michael B. Jordan and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer with director Ryan Coogler.

Summer is on its way and what better way to spend your days but supporting some great  black artistry? The impact of the African diaspora on art throughout the world is insurmountable. Artistry realms such as music, dance and film have all been greatly influenced by black composers, choreographers and directors. Yet, many artists of the diaspora face numerous challenges when trying to get their art accepted into mainstream channels. Black art continues to provides a voice for many of those who experience life challenges, not as common, to mainstream audiences. This art has also allowed for necessary dialogue between countries around a number of issues and how they specifically impact members of the diaspora similarly and sometimes differently from nation to nation. Clearly,  black artistry is influential and important to keep cultures fresh and abreast of issues and triumphs of communities of color, but is this art supported enough by us to stay healthy and relevant?

Many African and African-American communities under utilize and ignore their power as consumers. The market responds to what consumes buy. It is that simple. While there are numerous other obstacles creating roadblocks for black artists to bloom this is one that our communities can address. There is no reason with such a large and diverse diaspora of African people why our artists sometimes struggle the most in getting support. If we want to continue to see the amazing talent that our people create it is imperative we not only promote with our mouths but with our pockets as well. Summer 2013 is full of hot new releases in music and film. A number of these releases are direct products of black artistry globally. More artists of the diaspora who are behind the scenes as the writers and producers of these projects need to be not only known but supported. So checkout this list of black artists worldwide all with new releases or performances scheduled for Summer 2013.


1. Fruitvale Station directed by Ryan Coogler (Released in the US: July 26, 2013)

Supported by one of Hollywood’s finest actors and directors-cum-producer Forrest Whitaker, new director Ryan Coogler will touch the hearts of many this summer with Fruitvale Station. The film is the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Oakland, Ca resident, who was killed on New Year’s Day 2009 by transportation police at a local train station. The film’s release has been bumped up from the fall to mid-summer, most likely to coincide with the trial of Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, in Sanford, Florida.

2. Peeples: directed by Tina Gordan (Released in the US: May 10, 2013)

Peeples is the directorial debut of Tina Gordan. The comedy follows Wade Walker, played by comedian Craig Robinson, as he crashes the annual family reunion in the Hamptons of his girlfriend Grace, played by Kerry Washington, to ask for her hand in marriage.

3. Grisgus: directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Released in France: August 28, 2013)

The film centers on Grisgris, a 25 year old young man with dreams of becoming a dancer despite the fact that he’s paralyzed from the waist down. The story and its creator already have stirred up much conversation as folks are excited about its release.

4. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty: directed by Terrance Nance ( US Summer 2013 Screenings)

You can’t have summer without summer love. And we can thank newcomer Terrance Nance for his film documenting the relationship between the main character Terence and a lovely young woman as it teeters on the divide between platonic and romantic.

5. 12 Years as a Slave: directed by Steve McQueen (Released in the US: Late 2013, Released in the UK: Early 2014)

UK director Steve McQueen teamed up with writer John Ridley on this film slated to hit American theaters a little after summer. For all the history buffs out there, this drama is based on the autobiography, Twelve Years as a Slave by Solomon Northrop, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.


1. Lianne LaHavas (US and UK Summer 2013 Performances)

2. Alexandra Burke (UK Summer 2013 Performances)

3. Karega Bailey (US Album, Surrender, released in Early 2013)

4. Misha B (UK Debut Album released Summer 2013)

5. Laetitia Dana (French Album, Iboga, released June 3, 2013)

6. Mischu Laikah (Back to Roots Caribbean Tour Summer 2013)


  • All my Friends, a novel by French writer Marie NDiaye (released in the US: May 2013)
  • The New African Photography, a six-part documentary on African photographers.  (airs on Al Jazeera April-May 2013)

Last 5 posts by Kenyada McLean