Barbecues, block parties, fireworks — it’s how many of us celebrate the Fourth of July.
Yet for rising star Aloe Blacc, who is featured in the annual Philly 4th of July Jam on the Parkway starring The Roots, the barbecues and fireworks of his youth in Southern California meant just a little something extra for him and his family.
“My parents and my family are from Panama,” Blacc says. “[The Fourth of July] was a special moment because they were celebrating being American and having that experience of coming to this country to make a better life for themselves and their family.”
Blacc, the voice of Avicii’s 2013 heavy rotation hit “Wake Me Up,” was born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III.
“My parents … didn’t have a Civil Rights movement, so black folks had trouble getting jobs,” Blacc says. “There was a lot of discrimination all throughout Central and South America, and still is. They came to the U.S. where they’re obviously socially forward and getting with the times and being respectful to humanity.”
It’s been a big 12 months for Blacc, from the exposure of “Wake Me Up” to his current hit, the stirring and soulful “The Man.”
“‘Wake Me Up’ was a huge opportunity to introduce my voice and my songwriting to a lot of people and it was a great way to follow up with that,” says Blacc.
He first emerged as a rapper and scored a minor hit with 2010’s “I Need a Dollar,” which was used as the theme song for HBO’s “How to Make It in America.” And now he’s playing with The Roots backing him. Looks like he has made it in America.
Joining in the Jam
The Jam will be broadcast live on VH1 and Palladia, and it is — not hyperbolically — being billed as the largest free concert in America.
The lineup includes The Roots, now the house band for “The Tonight Show,” Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande, who until this summer you may have known as star of Nickelodeon’s “Sam & Cat,” but is making a different name for herself with “Problems” her collaboration with Iggy Azalea.
Philly 4th of July Jam and Fireworks
Friday, 7-11 p.m.
Broadcast at 8 p.m. on VH1 and Palladia.tv
Ben Franklin Pkwy., from 20th Street to Eakins Oval