JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The UMOJA “Unity in the Community” festival is back for a 26th year on Sept. 9 at King Commons Park. The event will feature vendors, a kids zone, a parade and a slate of music heavy on jazz and R&B, co-chair Angelitti Bradley said on Tuesday.

“We have a lot of live entertainment,” Bradley said. “If you like R&B and jazz you will love this festival.”

Some of the top attractions include Sunshine Anderson, a well-known R&B/soul singer, sax and other reed jazz instrumentalists Will Boyd and Kelle Jolly, known as the “Tennessee Ukelele Lady.”

Also back will be Shaka Zulu and his stiltwalkers with accompanying drummers from New Orleans, La., who will lead the kickoff parade that wends from Carver Park to West Main Street, down to Commerce and on to King Commons.

At 12:30 p.m. there will be a “calling of the drums,” with gospel music scheduled for 2-4 p.m.

Throughout the day and evening, a kids zone will be available sponsored by Jubilee World Outreach Church. Food and craft vendors will be on hand, and several information booths are planned along with a health fair sponsored by East Tennessee State University and its College of Pharmacy.

The unity festival, designed to promote a variety of cultures and art, has broadened in recent years, Bradley said, with the Latin community showing a stronger presence.

Bradley said UMOJA has always focused on more than just the annual festival, and she said 2023 has been perhaps the strongest example of that. The group sponsored a month-long art exhibit at Fischman Gallery in June.

“That was like a whole month of activities; every other weekend we would have children come in and they made quilts and kind of learned a history of quilt making, and the underground railroad,” she said. “Every time we had an event it was packed.”

That was followed in August by a collaborative effort with the McKinney Center — a three-night run of the Broadway play “Crowns.”

“Jules (Corriere) is a great director and that play was awesome,” Bradley said. “All local talent, singing, acting and it just kind of really made a big difference in our community because everybody was just amazed at how wonderful it was.”

The UMOJA Festival is free and open to the public. Information is at