The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), celebrated its 16th anniversary by hosting their 2nd annual MoCADA Masquerade Ball on Thursday, May 19, 2016, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Lepercq Ballroom. The gala served as a fundraiser to help the museum raise funds to establish a larger museum base in Brooklyn as well as to raise money for Brooklyn community programs.
The MoCADA Masquerade Ball was hosted by Tai Beauchamp and Emil Wilbekin. Singers Maxwell and Estelle served as honorary chairpersons of the gala. Speaking to Maxwell about serving as a chairman for the evening gala he told The Knockturnal, “Oh my God it’s an incredible thing. I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I never thought coming from where I was and the conditions that I came from that I would be able to walk into a room and be honored by all these incredible people in order to spread the word about creativity.” Maxwell is also set to go out on tour in the coming months. “I’m just gonna make sure you guys have a good time. We’re gonna play the music you guys know, play the new music. Do the soul man thing basically.” Maxwell also gave a tidbit on some projects he’s involved with telling us, “I’m involved with a couple of films that I probably shouldn’t speak on but they’re very poignant. I had the honor of meeting Harry Belafonte who’s my idol and we have been in talks in regards to his own foundation which is in Africa and a movie that he is involved in.”
Other attendees included Justine Skye, Fab Five Freddy, Kehinde Wiley and Jillian Hervey of the music group Lion Babe. Hervey spoke about her famous mother singer and actress Vannessa Williams and her family’s influence on her saying, “She’s an artist herself. My whole family comes from the creative industry and they’re all artists in their own way. So it was just the environment I was in, I had a lot of writers, makeup artists. So I don’t really know anything else. This is an old VW dress. I’m wearing her dress that she gave me.” In speaking about the importance of BAM in her life as well as in Brooklyn culture Hervey said, “I honestly would have to say BAM has been a huge part of just my experience in New York. I’ve come here for dance things, I’ve been in workshops here, you just come to see exhibits when your friends are doing performances and you always support. I remember Afropunk how they had the street festival way back, so there’s always something around here and I think they just take care of Brooklyn so much.” Elaborating about if Lion Babe will hit the Afropunk stage this summer Hervey stated, “I wish. We performed last year and also last year in Paris. So I think you got to have a gap or something which is so sad, it’s one of my favorite festivals. It’s like a highlight of Lion Babe’s shows.” More shows from Lion Babe are expected this summer, “We actually just announced our tour starting in July. It’s our first headlining US tour and we have new music coming out.” Harvey told us.
“I’m a graduate of the New School, so I have a lot of friends who have started whatever they have been doing here and … it’s exciting because a lot of artists that have really been putting the work in for years are getting bigger platforms because a lot of it is on trend right now to talk about these issues and concepts that I think a lot of these artists have been exploring. Brooklyn is a great environment to explore. It’s very free it has a lot of history and it’s always had a gravitational pull for certain forward thinking people. I think that’s why it’s gonna continue to just dominate and take over,” Hervey said about Brooklyn being a hub for emerging talent.
Some of those who were awarded for their contributions to MoCADA included Derrick Adams who received the Artist Advocacy Award, The Rockefeller Foundation who received the Philanthropic Advocacy Award, and Studio One Eighty Nine Founders Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah who received the Social Justice Advocacy Award.
During the MoCADA Gala’s VIP Cocktail Reception, guests enjoyed a specialty cocktail menu that featured Martell Cognac favorites. Guests also were treated to a special performance by R&B artist Bilal as well as live art by Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo.