Continuing its yearlong commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in the American colonies in 1619, Mammoth Cave National Park is offering a free concert at the park’s outdoor amphitheater.
Essence in Harmony, a Bowling Green-based musical group with a self-stated goal to “educate and entertain through performance,” will be at the park at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The concert will feature tunes from genres favoring the African Diaspora, including African American spiritual, gospel chart, jazz, blues and classical choral repertoire.
“Throughout the year, the park is going to be doing different events highlighting African American history,” park spokeswoman Molly Schroer said. “We’re really happy (Essence in Harmony) will be coming up to perform.”
Mammoth Cave isn’t known for being a musical stage – its outdoor amphitheater generally hosts education events centered on topics like astronomy. The park hosts visitors every December for a “cave sing” of holiday tunes with professional performers, but the last outdoor concert was during the National Park Service’s 100-year celebration in 2017.
But national parks throughout the country are offering events this year that commemorate and celebrate African American history.
In August, Mammoth Cave participated in a nationwide bell-ringing ceremony coordinated by the National Park Service.
Park staff members haven’t planned other events yet, but they’re looking into opportunities for events, social media posts and ranger-led programs. One park ranger is even trying to create a new evening program highlighting African American history, according to Schroer.
“We would love to have something pretty regularly,” Schroer said.
On Saturday, Essence in Harmony will be lead by Brittany Carter Whitlow, who was recently named the overall winner at the SOKY’s Got Talent competition.
The outdoor amphitheater is located between the visitor center and the campground store. As it’s an open amphitheater, the park recommends weather-appropriate clothing.
“We hope everyone can come and enjoy this night of music,” Schroer said.