MOJA Arts Festival kicks off Thursday

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A yearly celebration recognizing Black arts, culture, and contributions kicks off in Charleston on Thursday.

The MOJA Arts Festival has music, food, dance, poetry, theater, storytelling, crafts and activities for families. All paying homage to African-American and Caribbean contributions.

A street parade kicks off this year’s festival beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday traveling about a mile from Marion Square, down King Street and Market Street and ending at the U.S. Customs House.

Right down the street from the end of the parade route will be the opening reception at City Gallery Waterfront Park, also at 6 p.m.

One of the instrumental players in making MOJA come to life this year is Awendaw native Charlton Singleton. By trade, he’s a Grammy award-winning musician. But he’s singing a new tune this year as the festival’s artistic director.

“It’s really full circle,” Singleton said. “Being a little boy coming to the festival and its beginning years back since 1979 to now be someone that is helping to lead the charge and take it to new heights is really a tremendous opportunity, one that I look forward to moving forward with the city of Charleston, with anybody that wants to help, with all of the artists locally, regionally. we’re looking to go in International with this so it is a tremendous honor and I’m just looking forward to everything that it has to do with it.”

There are a lot of events to pack into this festival that runs through October 8. Charlton Singleton is hoping to take MOJA to new heights: international status.

“I think that in the past we’ve had more so of the local and regional with the occasional large group from the United States that you know might be touring through or presenting something coming through,” Singleton said. “But there are international artists that have connections to the Lowcountry because the Lowcountry is so unique. And so to be able to call upon some of those artists is something that we’re going to be exploring quite a bit now.”

He says as a musician, he’s been able to travel and connect with artists and performers from all over the world. So this year, the committee made it a point to tap into those resources, inviting domestic artists and international artists from Jamaica, Barbados, Iraq and Bangladesh.

Shelbey Roberts

Shelbey Roberts

Shelbey joined the Live 5 News team in June 2023.