PORTLAND, Maine — Friday commemorates 150 years since the first Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, Union army general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, where he read federal orders proclaiming that all enslaved persons were now free. Texas was the most remote of the slave states, and although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, enforcement had been slow and inconsistent.
Juneteenth is considered the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.
In Maine, Black artists have come together for a pre-recorded live virtual show to celebrate the holiday and raise awareness about the holiday. Local singer and songwriter Janay Woodruff, also known as Janaesound, produced the concert of local Black talent. Due to COVID-19, the show was taped at the State Theatre in Portland before empty seats and will be streamed on its Facebook page Friday, June 19, at 8 p.m.
"Right now we could all use a little bit of love and light and healing," said Woodruff. As she searched for the best way to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, she said music was the obvious choice.
"I've been inspired by everything going on. I thought the one thing I could do to add my voice to the conversations is through music. That's what I do best," Woodruff said.
The concert features Janaesound & Jubliee Choir, Rodney Mashia & Kaia Mac, B. Aull and Abdul Ali. All donations will benefit two local Black-led organizations, Indigo Arts Alliance and Black Owned Maine.
Janay Woodruff is a soul-infused rock singer from St. Louis who has called Maine her home for the last several years. She has performed at Portland House of Music, Blue, Candy's, Port City Music Hall, Merrill Auditorium, Thompson's Point, Brick-south, and State Theatre. She has produced several collaborative shows in Maine.