Landing in Utica at 2:45 a.m. Monday, Dominican-American salsa artist Ehshawnee looked out the window at the city of Utica.
“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful,'” she said. “It reminds me of Providence, the town I’m from. It’s very small, but we have a lot of diversity and a lot of culture there.”
The Mohawk Valley Latino Association has partnered with Levitt AMP Utica to bring award-winning artist EhShawnee to Utica for two days of Latin American music and celebration on Sunday, August 28 and Monday, August 29.
The first concert will be at the MVLA’s 16th Annual Latin American Festival. Both concerts will have free admission and will close Levitt AMP’s summer concert series for the year.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Ehshawnee moved to Providence, Rhode Island at a young age and spent her musical career touring the Dominican Republic and the United States. She is particularly popular in the Dominican Republic, where she has released several top 10 singles and was named “Best New Act” by the Premio Conga de la Salsa in 2019. She was also just named “Best International Artist” by the Premio Conga this year.
EhShawnee said she was “very happy, very excited to share new things with my people here in Utica.”
Ehshawnee will perform alongside a 12-person salsa band. Although her music is mostly salsa, she says she frequently fuses elements of styles from other Latin American countries as well as Arabic music.
“We saw her play last summer and came back and said, ‘We absolutely have to bring her here,'” said Michelle Truett, Levitt AMP Utica coordinator. “There were so many instruments that I can’t even tell you. They provide that layered sound that’s impossible not to dance to.”
The 16th Annual MVLA Latin American Festival will take place from noon to 7 p.m., Sunday, August 28 at Hanna Park, 1 Kennedy Plaza, Utica. The festival will kick off with a Latino cultural fashion show, as well as a parade that will feature children representing the cultural diversity of the Mohawk Valley.
Other activities will include the annual dominoes and Zumba tournament. Several children’s activities such as hula hoop, relay races, Double Dutch, water balloons and face painting will also be available. EhShawnee will perform alongside his band and there will be performances from Latin singer H-Melody and DJ Richy. Food vendors will also be present.
The second concert, and final performance of the Levitt Amp Summer Concert Series, will take place at Kopernik Park at Eagle and Genesee streets. The ZZ Trio will open for EhShawnee at 6:00 p.m. and EhShawnee will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. ZZ, the face of the ZZ Trio, said they perform a mix of pop, soul and Motown funk.
“Bring a chair and camp and watch the bands because it’s so much fun,” ZZ said. “It’s not too late to drag your friends, your family, your parents. Tell them to come down and it will be fine.”