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Idlewild Music Festival celebrates historic African-American resort town

Angela Winbush photo
Courtesy Idlewild Music Festival
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Angela Winbush performs Saturday at the Idlewild Music Festival.

The Idlewild Music Festival pays homage to the town's unique heritage as an entertainment paradise for Michigan's African American performers.

Before the 1960s civil rights movement, segregated entertainment venues were the norm, and often the law. Even when black musicians performed at all-white venues, they were ushered out back doors and put up in run-down motels. But there was one place where African American audiences and performers could escape the rampant discrimination of the outside world and enjoy some of the world’s best entertainment. That place was a small town in Northwestern Michigan called Idlewild.

Current State talks about the history of this extraordinary town and the efforts to bring the excitement of Idlewild’s heydey to a new generation with John Meeks, head of the Idlewild African American Chamber of Commerce, and Theresa Randleman, producer of the Idlewild Music Festival happening this Friday through Saturday.

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