Michael Bivins of legendary R&B groups, New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe, has been appointed creative director of the new Harlem Festival of Culture (HFC). Inspired by Summer of Soul (… Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) and the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the new outdoor experience was founded by Musa Jackson, Nikoa Evans, and Yvonne McNair.
Set to debut in 2023, HFC will be held annually on the same grounds as the original Harlem Cultural Festival. Bivins will oversee ideation and strategic initiatives to ensure longevity.
“With my understanding of what Yvonne does with CMG and knowing how important the original Harlem Cultural Festival was to the community and to our culture, I knew I wanted to be part of it,” Bivins admitted to Billboard. ”Although I’m from Boston, I’ve always spent a lot of time there and have participated in the Entertainers Basketball Classic [EBC] at Rucker Park for years. My goal as creative director is to bring in that history and appreciation with an infusion of music and sports.”
McNair added, “We are so excited to have someone like Michael Bivins on board as we start on this incredible journey. In addition to being a legendary artist and a brilliant businessman, Mike is a visionary and a creative force; his insight and experience will help us build out HFC as a cultural destination and a brand. Much like the original festival, artists’ voices will be a crucial part of the festival’s foundation and expansion as they will help us create a one-of-a-kind experience. We are also looking forward to fostering relationships with other artists and entertainers to be part of HFC. This is just the beginning.”
In addition to his new role, Bivins is working on two forthcoming documentaries. One is centered around New Edition’s The Culture Tour. The New Edition documentary is currently in post-production and will be announced later this year as the group prepares to celebrate their 40th anniversary next year. The men are also working on a potential Las Vegas residency.
“It was an amazing feeling to see in the audience every night how our legacy has stood the test of time,” Bivins shared when speaking on the tour. “The New Edition Story had characters portraying us. And although we played an important role in the movie’s success, we wanted to peel back another layer for #NE4lifers to see the real us. This story will be told through the lens of Brooke Payne [the group’s early manager, choreographer and mentor]. People will see behind the scenes on the production, rehearsals and live performances. This documentary is also something that the group can own as a unit.”
The other documentary titled The Hustle of @617MikeBiv centers around Bivins’ personal life and professional endeavors including discovering Another Bad Creation and Boyz II Men. “[The film] will focus on things I’ve seen and survived from. I’ve been in rooms others have never been in and seen things other people have never seen. The music business is very cutthroat. I want to give game to those who want to watch and hear real ish to help them stay 10 steps ahead at all times.”