Philly’s coronavirus response

Michelle Obama partners with Roots Picnic for virtual concert and voter registration drive

The original 2020 festival is still pending, organizers said, with updates expected by early August.

Michelle Obama will join Tariq Trotter and Questlove of the Roots for a virtual GOTV event

Michelle Obama will join Tariq Trotter and Questlove of the Roots for a virtual GOTV event

Roots Picnic

This story was originally published at the end of March, when organizers first announced the festival would be postponed. It has been updated with new information.

Michelle Obama is bringing her star power to the Roots Picnic.

The former first lady and organizers of the annual music and culture fest are holding a concert and GOTV event on June 27, organizers announced Tuesday.

This voter registration push and music show is not a replacement for the 13th Annual Roots Picnic, which was postponed indefinitely last week, according to a comment from the official Instagram account. “Please stay tuned for more updates on the 2020 festival,” the organizers said.

Performers at the virtual concert are slated to include singers Musiq Soulchild, H.E.R., Sza and Snoh Aalegra, rappers Lil Baby and Roddy Rich and gospel artist Kirk Franklin. There will also be appearances by Tom Hanks, Kerry Washington, Chris Paul and local influencer Wallo267.

Festivities will be broadcast live on YouTube. Folks can RSVP here.

The Roots partnered with Obama’s nonprofit, When We All Vote, “with the goal of engaging and reaching 500,000 eligible voters,” organizers wrote in a statement. During the online festival, When We All Vote volunteers will be texting viewers through a platform that targets unregistered voters.


Moved to Aug. 1, then postponed indefinitely

Previously moved to Aug. 1 from its original planned date of May 30, organizers announced last Wednesday that the music and culture festival would be rescheduled but gave no new date.

At that time, organizers said tickets would be honored at the rescheduled date and that ticket holders can request refunds either after that announcement or starting on Aug. 9, whichever comes first.

The Roots Picnic website has been updated to reflect the virtual gathering, but the postponement update remains listed on the page, along with a link to the Live Nation ticket refund plan.

First held in 2008, the fest typically falls at the end of May or beginning of June. This year’s event was first pushed back at the end of March, as the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and need for social distancing in the region became apparent.

At that time, original tickets would have been honored at the rescheduled date and there was no mention of ticket refunds.

Now in its 13th year, the Roots Picnic has become part of the fabric of Philadelphia. This year’s fest was announced in early February, and featured a lineup featuring Meek Mill, DaBaby, SWV and Brandy.

This would have been its second year at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park, right near West Philly’s Parkside neighborhood. Before moving to the outdoor amphitheater, for more than a decade the event was held at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. That spot is currently closed for construction of the city’s I-95 park cap.

It’s unclear if the cancellation/rescheduling will affect the festival’s lineup, and the list of previously scheduled acts is no longer available on the website.

Many large-scale events were affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Philadelphia’s giant Odunde Festival, which normally falls on the second Sunday in June, was cancelled at the end of April.

In March, the Penn Relays was cancelled for the first time in the event’s 126-year history.  SXSW, the innovation and culture festival in Austin, TX where Philadelphia artists and entrepreneurs have built a strong presence, was canceled in early March. Philly opted to cancel its 10th annual Philly Tech Week, originally planned for April, holding a virtual version instead. And Delaware’s Firefly Festival, which was scheduled for mid-June, has also been canceled

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

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