EAST HARLEM — The Harlem Arts Festival will honor late rap legend Prodigy of Mobb Deep when it returns to Marcus Garvey Park for its sixth year this weekend.
The festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday, will host 32 local musicians, dancers, singers, and comics, along with free live music, spoken word, dance and theater performances at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater, on 124th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues.
Prodigy, who was originally slated to perform at the event, died Tuesday in Las Vegas of reported complications from sickle cell anemia.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Prodigy, a true music icon. The festival will continue this weekend in his honor, and our closing performance on Saturday will be dedicated to his memory," organizers said in a statement.
"We hope you will join us in celebration of Prodigy's life, his legacy, and his contributions to the arts community."
The festival will feature an appearance by Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Maurice Brown, who will lead the performance honoring Prodigy.
The event also includes a host workshops for attendees of all ages, including a “Kids Corner” with art-making activities and face painting, as well as 80 local vendors — double the amount of previous years.
“This year’s class of artists are truly incredible. Responding to what is going on across the country today, these ‘artists rising’ are using their art as activism to bring people together.” said Neal Ludevig, the festival’s co-founder.
“These are some of the most exciting emerging artists out there, and you can say you saw them here first. We’re excited to be working with them and provide a real support system and community for them to hone their craft.”
Though the festival is free, there will be a host of paid events, including a two-hour opening night dance party at Solomon & Kuff, 2331 12th Ave.
For the first time this year, the festival will sell $50 VIP packages, which include priority seating at the amphitheater and free food from vendors.
There will also be an after party at Gin Fizz, 308 Malcolm X Blvd, on June 24 beginning at 9:30 p.m.
The celebration will wrap up with a Sunday brunch at Angel of Harlem, 2272 Frederick Douglass Blvd., on June 25 from noon to 3 p.m.
All event tickets may be purchased at the door or at www.harlemartsfestival.com.