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CNN Live Event/Special
CNN Presents "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration Of Freedom." Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 19, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What a show. You can hear everyone screaming, Charlie! Charlie! You just heard Charlie Wilson from the "The Gap Band." And as a solo artist, he still got it. We heard Nelly, we heard Chloe bringing the house down. This has been an incredible show of talent. And so many inspirational remarks honoring this federal holiday. It is now a federal holiday, Juneteenth. And it's all about freedom.
We are back with "Juneteenth on CNN." I'm Sara Sidner along with Van Jones. It just keeps getting better and better. There are moments from now, we are going to be talking to some of the folks that you saw on the stage, some of the headliners, Kirk Franklin, Big Freedia, the members of SWV.
They are all going to show up. We are going to get to -- to ham it up with them a little bit. It was amazing.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I just -- I'm so -- I'm proud to be an American, I'm proud to be Black, I'm proud to CNN, I'm proud of -- I'm proud of Kirk Franklin be van. It's like -- it's an unbelievable show. And you had the young folks.
JONES: This is -- I guarantee you, there are some people who never heard of Chloe --
JONES: -- who now knows who she is. But I tell you what, Charlie, he still got.
SIDNER: Charlie brought the house down. I mean --
JONES: He still got it.
SIDNER: -- I love seeing people who love their craft and can do it -- JONES: Can do it.
SIDNER: -- for their entire lives.
JONES: Entire lives.
SIDNER: It is beautiful. Now, speaking of a little surprise, a little coolness, a little duet --
SIDNER: -- we saw someone we were not expecting to see. Nelly and Chloe.
JONES: Nelly and Cloe.
SIDNEY: They came together. We didn't know this was going to happen. Let's let you see what happened.
JONES: If you missed it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(NELLY AND CHLOE PERFORMING)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Come on, Chloe and Nelly.
JONES: That works. That works.
The two generations coming together.
JONES: It's just like, look, I mean, for me -- first of all, she was injured. She was out there. She had a boot on.
SIDNER: She had a boot on.
JONES: She was injured. Made it better out there. They made it work.
SIDNER: They made it. They sauce it up.
JONES: They made it work.
SIDNER: They did. It was nice to see. There is a generational --
SIDNER: -- coming together, as you mentioned.
JONES: That's what Juneteenth does. It brings together --
SIDNER: That's right.
JONES: -- the old and the young, and we showed it on the stage tonight. You know, the thing that I was shocked by was Mike Phillips. When he came out -- look, when you think about instrumentalist, you think about a jazz person. Okay, that's great. All of a sudden, wait, this guy has Michael Jordan backing him and giving him a shoe. What kind of instrumentalist is going to get a shoe?
SIDNER: Same kind of instrumentalist that showed up. And the crowd went nuts.
JONES: Went nuts.
SIDNER: Like literally --
SIDNER: -- all of a sudden, they blew up. They were kind of chilling.
JONES: Big star. He was a big star of the night. Can we show some of that? In case you missed it.
SIDNER: Do we -- okay, let's go ahead and listen to some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MIKE PHILLIPS PERFORMING)
SIDNER: He is playing with the crowd. Look!
JONES: Look at the crowd. That is the reaction. That is unbelievable.
SIDNER: Come on.
JONES: One man, one horn, and just tore it up.
SIDNER: That takes so much strength. Look -- look at the crowd.
JONES: Look at that.
SIDNER: This is an instrumentalist. This is a person that usually you just sort of like --
JONES: Sometimes, you talk to your neighbor, not like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Not today, folks. Speaking of someone we really want to talk to, let's bring in Stephanie Elam. You were there at the concert, at The Greek Theatre. Stephanie, what did you see in the crowd? I mean, you are just beaming as usual.
What did you see?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wait, you guys are talking about Mike Phillips. Let me tell you --
ELAM: -- when he came on the stage, we were like, okay, we like some saxophone, we want a group with some saxophone, and then he went off, and the crowd was on its feet! Mike Phillips tore the house down! He got everybody up.
And I don't even understand how he was breathing and dancing. And those notes were so dank on long (ph). It was exciting. It was an amazing performance to see. And I know you guys are going to get to talk to him. I got to talk to him already. He is fantastic.
I want you to meet a couple of people who have been enjoying the show, have been having the time of the night. Come on. This is Joanne and Lashawn (ph). Tell me, what was your favorite performance? I know it's hard.
ELAM: You have the words. But I don't think you were alone. Did you hear everybody else singing along with you?
UNKNOWN: Yes, everybody.
ELAM: All the words or did you forget any?
ELAM: So, was that what you guys were here, because you want to see SWV?
UNKNOWN: No. I want to see Kirk Franklin.
UNKNOWN: Charlie Wilson and Nelly. I wanted to see them all. It was a great hit. I would not miss it for the world.
ELAM: So, tell me, tell me, though, Juneteenth, celebrating Juneteenth, was this something that was new to your -- part of your celebrations of the year or have you been doing this?
UNKNOWN: I have been doing this for the last three years.
UNKNOWN: The last three years.
UNKNOWN: This is my first year doing Juneteenth.
ELAM: What does it mean to have this holiday?
UNKNOWN: We finally have this day. Everybody else has their day. We have our day. Today.
UNKNOWN: And it's a paid (ph) holiday.
ELAM: For everybody. Right? For everybody. Right. So, well, I'm so glad that you, guys, had an enjoyable time. Thanks for talking to me. Thanks for grooving with me because we heard the end of Uncle Charlie here. Charlie Wilson was still singing. So, we were grooving a little bit over here. But a good time, Sara.
SIDNER: I mean, can we have -- can they sing us out?
ELAM: They want you to sing us out.
SIDNER: You are hired. Keep jamming.
ELAM: You asked. You asked.
SIDNER: I did ask. And I appreciate it. Let us also go ahead -- they talked about Kirk Franklin, wanting to see him.
SIDNER: I certainly love to see him. He's my personal hype man in my head in the mornings.
JONES: On the playlist every morning.
SIDNER: Let's listen to -- he sat down with us. He was so cool. Let's listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(KIRK FRANKLIN PERFORMING)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Gospel great (ph) Kirk Franklin kicking off the Juneteenth concert with "Lift Every Voice and Sing," widely considered to be the Black national anthem. It is the Black national anthem.
JONES: It's not considered.
SIDNER: It's not considered. It is the Black national anthem.
KIRK FRANKLIN, SINGER: There's no cap in it.
SIDNER: There's no cap. Oh, look at you. Look at you, hanging with the people. I love it. You are my personal height man (ph) in the morning. I just want to let you know.
FRANKLIN: Thank you.
SIDNER: I'm always saying that you have a song.
SIDNER: And I play it to get my mood up.
FRANKLIN: First of all, did you hear the little note she is singing?
JONES: Oh, yeah.
FRANKLIN: It was really about (INAUDIBLE).
FRANKLIN: Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know this was not about me. This is the opportunity (INAUDIBLE). That was a major (INAUDIBLE) on CNN.
Because you didn't know what it was.
SIDNER: You have no idea. I had laryngitis before.
JONES: That's right.
SIDNER: I haven't spoken for four days. I finally got rid of that. And now, I am sitting next to you. It is tripping me out right now.
FRANKLIN: I am sitting with you and --
SIDNER: And Van. He is a legend.
FRANKLIN: So great. He just asked for my number, ladies and gentlemen. I put my number in, and my name pops up. He already got my number. They act like they don't like to call you.
(LAUGHTER) SIDNER: It did say superstar under there, so -- I mean --
JONES: There's a Kirk Franklin, superstar in my phone.
I mostly got you some other time when I was trying to get you on one of my shows or whatnot. To sit here with you and listen, you know, our people got through based on grace, based on faith, and it was our music, it was a gospel music.
JONES: You know, Monday through Friday was terrible. Saturday, we try to get relief, but Sunday morning, Sunday morning. And now, you have brought that to a global audience. The old folks love you. You are working with Maverick City. The young folks love you. You are now -- you are now the central bridge builder within gospel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
How does it feel? And there you are, doing your thing tonight.
SIDNER: On Juneteenth. I mean, they love you.
JONES: Look at you.
SIDNER: What is it like being out there, on this day, to see that reaction? And you are from Texas, right? Fort Worth.
FRANKLIN: I'm a Texan boy.
FRANKLIN: A Texan boy.
SIDNER: So, this all went down in Texas in 1865.
SIDNER: And here you are in 2023. And look at you.
FRANKLIN: I'm just very graceful, romantic. I feel the Lord. And it's just very interesting, being in Texas. We were always within the context of Juneteenth. And I would have friends that live in other parts of the country.
FRANKLIN: And they did not really know what it was. But because in the south, it was so much a part of the esthetic of who we were as people, it is just a beautiful thing now to see that as a country --
FRANKLIN: -- we are acknowledging that there are some pieces of history that need to be magnified so we can understand the gravity --
FRANKLIN: -- of where we have been and where we are still trying to go.
JONES: Well, listen, it's a federal holiday. It's gone from being something that Black folks in Texas kept alive, barbecues --
JONES: -- and just spoken word. And now, it is a federal holiday signed into law by Biden, who was a part of this thing.
JONES: And it would not have happened if Black folks in Texas had not fought for it. So how does that feel knowing that you took it from Texas?
SIDNER: Particularly Opal Lee.
JONES: Opal Lee herself.
FRANKLIN: I know, crazy. It's very humbling. But once again, I think that it is still a very interesting dichotomy of this -- the space that we live within, you know, this western culture of always having to argue for points that should be self-explanatory.
And I just think -- but at the same time, I celebrate the allies. You know? I celebrate my brothers and sisters that are not part of our experience, but they understand how important it is to the tapestry of American history that we get it right.
JONES: Get it right.
SIDNER: You talk a lot in your music. You share a lot about struggles. Struggles that we all have, human beings in general.
SIDNER: And you have struggled. You have struggled with the concept of organized religion.
FRANKLIN: Still do.
SIDNER: And here you are like --
FRANKLIN: Still do.
SIDNER: -- the most popular contemporary gospel singer. How did that happen? How do you get through that struggle? And you said you are still going through?
FRANKLIN: I'm still going through it. I'm not the -- I'm just the one of the great communities of gospel artists. There are several. (INAUDIBLE), Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond. I mean, you can just keep going on and on. I am just one of the links in the great chain. So, you know --
JONES: Humbly said.
FRANKLIN: Well, you know, it's true. I think that I struggle through it by being very vocal. And I think that is something very healing because there has been such weaponization within the framework of western Christianity that has been -- not been official to the ongoing narrative of what faith is. I think it is duplicitous to not acknowledge the mistakes that have been made so that people can feel that there can be some honesty and transparency in the church.
JONES: The church is a human institution, those kind of human thoughts and flaws. But is divinely inspired. And music, you have been a part of that. Listen, I think all of black theology can be summed up in two words, whether you're talking about Dr. King, whether you're talking about (INAUDIBLE). Hallelujah, anyhow. Hallelujah, anyhow. No matter what you do to us, you are not going to take away our joy. You are not going to tell us that we're not children of God. That is your message.
SIDNER: He is like the preacher in you.
FRANKLIN: (INAUDIBLE) right now.
We would let some Baptist church up on the roof.
You know, that's beautifully said. I think that that can be everyone's statement. That you just do not have the -- you don't have to have the same hubris (ph) as I do --
FRANKLIN: -- to be able to understand that no matter what we face, collectively, at the end of it, it is a hallelujah anyhow. And so, you know, me being from the south, being adopted, going through abandonment, not having a mother and father, and I'm sitting up here with you, legends, you know, in journalism, for mem, that's the hallelujah, anyhow.
SIDNER: Look, we feel the same way because you have uplifted us.
JONES: We hear your voice every day.
FRANKLIN: Sorry about that.
JONES: It's my playlist, it's on my playlist.
SIDNER: It is literally like I go run into it. It helped me to understand that there is a higher plane. And no matter what is happening in our lives, that we can transcend.
FRANKLIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
SIDNER: And you help us transcend. And that is a blessing to all of us.
FRANKLIN: Thank you. And I think that the message there is, you know, if all -- if what you see is all you see, then you do not see all there is to be seen. You know?
FRANKLIN: That's not mine. That's Dr. Tony Evers.
SIDNER: I know but dang. You got it memorized.
FRANKLIN: Because I'm a student of just truth and I am always trying to tap into things that make us better. It's because the journey is difficult. You know? And there are so many whys. You know, why would a loving God allow so much trauma in the world? Sometimes, I don't know. But what I don't know does not cancel out what I do know.
JONES: Love it, love it.
FRANKLIN: Now, that is mine.
SIDNER: Come on.
Kirk Franklin, you are the best.
JONES: That's good.
SIDNER: Thank you so much for taking part in all this.
FRANKLIN: Thank you. Thank you so much.
SIDNER: Look at this.
FRANKLIN: And a solo album is coming out. Solo album coming out next week. It drops. It's an album called "Lady in Pink."
SIDNER: Thank you. Heard it right here. Kirk Franklin just said it. Let's get that signed. All right.
Thank you so much.
FRANKLIN: Thank you. Thank you.
You all, look who is with us now. I'm freaking out. Members of the R&B group SWV. We all know it. We all know. We are going to talk to them next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: It feels so good.
JONES: There they go. There they go. There they go.
SIDNER: Come on. That was the legendary R&B trio SWV --
SIDNER: -- getting the Juneteenth crowd. And us. We are part of it, going. So, I am just letting you all know, I am so in to you. Like --
I am. I was so excited when I saw your name. Hold on, I've got a little girl like freak out for a second there. I am so happy to see you. I am so happy to see you performing. Can you tell me what it is like to be out there? You guys have been around for a minute. I mean, we are young.
UNKNOWN: We are all very young.
SIDNER: We are all very young. But you've been doing this for a minute. And you come out to this crowd, and they lose their ever- messing minds. JONES: They went nuts. How did that feel?
UNKNOWN: It's the music.
JONES: It's the music.
UNKNOWN: It's all about the music.
UNKNOWN: Exciting. We walked out there. We didn't really know what to expect. And they were loving us, and it was like, okay, let's get it.
UNKNOWN: We wish everyone can feel how we feel. But you can't duplicate that feeling when you hear hundreds and thousands of people screaming your lyrics back to you.
UNKNOWN: It's crazy.
SIDNER: It transcended the screen, too, because we were, like, okay, they know what we know.
JONES: Exactly. And part of the thing, too, is freedom can be fun. Freedom can be celebratory. Every time we get together and talk about black stuff, we shouldn't be crying and --
UNKNOWN: Let's have fun.
JONES: They did have a good time. Isn't that a part of freedom?
UNKNOWN: It's a celebration.
UNKNOWN: Exactly, it's a celebration.
UNKNOWN: A celebration.
JONES: When you guys came out, the crowd went nuts. Every line, every lyric. You know how that feel, to know that all this time, everybody knows every word. Not just a couple words.
UNKNOWN: It's so funny because they know the words and we forget them.
SIDNER: You all three are from New York, right?
SIDNER: Okay. And SWV, I looked this up when I was younger. Sisters with voices. We thought it was so incredibly cool. Does that mean something more to you? Because right now, sisters are having a lot of impact on a lot of things, whether it be politics.
JONES: Politics, culture --
SIDNER: Everything, from politics to culture, food, you name it.
TAMARA JOHNSON, MEMBER OF SWV: It is a sign of the times and progression. There was a time when we couldn't even come outside without permission. But now, we are laying down laws and putting foot down on folks. That is what we are talking about.
JONES: Kamala Harris was here. The first Black female vice president was here talking about sisters with voices. But you guys for a while, you weren't sisters with voices. You guys went separate ways. What made you come back together to become sisters with voices?
UNKNOWN: Stronger together than we are apart.
JOHNSON: That's who we all, everyone, as a nation, needs to understand, we are stronger together than apart.
JOHNSON: We knew that no matter how great we did without each other, it was not compared to what we can do together.
LEANNE LYONS, MEMBER OF SWV: Sisters with voices is not just our name. It is actually a movement.
LYONS: It really is.
SIDNER: That is beautiful.
JONES: That was obvious last night.
SIDNER: That is beautiful. Speaking of sisters with voices, Stephanie Elam is down there. She is my sister from another Mr. I love this woman. She has been listening. She was there watching it in person.
UNKNOWN: Hey, girl.
SIDNER: Hey, girl.
ELAM: I hear them, I hear them. Listen, I have to tell you, I have to tell you, being in the audience and seeing everyone jump up, and I'm going to be honest, I was singing along to every word because you guys are kind of the soundtrack to some like important years in life. When I got to Howard University, everyone was singing SWV.
I had to stop singing, though, because I listened, the entire audience was singing every single word. People were there for you. People were like, look at their shoes, look at the smooth moves. Everything. Taking in the entire vibe. I mean, I just had to stop and soak it up for you on your behalf. Like this is fantastic. But I was thinking about that for you. When people hear you singing and they're like this is like the soundtrack of like my youth, how does that feel for you, guys, to know that people feel that tie to your music?
CHERYL GAMBLE, MEMBER OF SWV: It feels great. You know, we have to focus because I will bust out crying any minute.
So, that is okay.
GAMBLE: Because it's emotional. We've been here for 31 years. You know, we haven't always felt the love.
So, to be here for 31 years later, they are loving us, they're singing word for word, it's just like --
JONES: There are groups that were around in your day would have that same reaction.
LYONS: That's what music does. Music is universal for everybody to enjoy.
ELAM: Wait, can I ask one more follow-up on that? Can I ask one more follow-up?
SIDNER: Absolutely. Also, before you ask the follow-up, I'm trying to prove a point here. It is possible? Can we show the shoes? Lift those shoes up, ladies, if you can. There they are. Look at that. Come on. We get teased for wearing flats. I think they are fantastic and marvelous. It's what everybody is doing now.
JOHNSON: It's comfortable, it's cute, it's chic, it's all how you wear it. It's not just a sneaker.
UNKNOWN: Shout out to our stylist, J. Bolin.
SIDNER: Oh, I see him over there. Well, you know what? He knows his thing because I see him over there. Stephanie, what's your question, girl?
ELAM: Okay, I want to ask SWV, if you can confirm for me, who is the man singing S, W to the V, V? Who is that singing?
UNKNOWN: Pharrell Williams (ph).
JONES: Nobody knew that.
ELAM: I heard it was Pharrell (ph).
SIDNER: Let me tell you who knew that. Stephanie knew that. That was a trick question. ELAM: I wanted to confirm that it was Pharrell (ph). That is amazing.
SIDNER: It was him.
ELAM: That's amazing little trivia that people do not know.
JONES: That is the news tonight.
SIDNER: It's unbelievable.
SIDNER: We had Pharrell (ph) before you guys do.
UNKNOWN: You sure did.
UNKNOWN: He was a baby in the studio.
SIDNER: What was it like working with him? You did it because he was in the studio, did his little (INAUDIBLE) and then --
UNKNOWN: You should ask him how it was working with us.
JONES: Oh, they're right.
SIDNER: Come on. Okay, okay. Last question to you. What makes you feel free? I'm going to start with you.
GAMBLE: Honestly, I just recently cut my hair and I feel so free. It's been a few months. And I just feel free. Release the stress. I'm feeling good about myself.
SIDNER: Black woman and our hair, there's a lot going on there. There is a lot of emotion that goes on in there. There's a lot of judgment that comes our way. So, that is beautiful. What for you?
JOHNSON: I think, for me, just being able to love my family the way I want to, when I want to, how I want to. I just really find liberation in that because I know that my son is in a better place because I was able to do for him what I could not have when I was younger. So that freedom, I love that.
LYONS: And what makes me feel free is just enjoying my body like getting older, it's like a thing and you always want to be like, you go through these changes like the midlife crisis thing, but I can actually be naked and be like, I look good for my age.
JONES: Tell the truth.
LYONS: Those curves, that little love handles, take it or leave it.
SIDNER: It's the confidence which you all have. And you get that as you get older. You start saying, like, I don't have to listen to what people are saying about me, I know me, I'm good. I'm good, thank you.
I'm so happy to see you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.
UNKNOWN: Thank you for having us.
SIDNER: SWV. We will be back. Up next, the performer who is all about dance. Just taking over. Just taking over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BIG FREEDIA PERFORMING)
SIDNER: That is hip-hop artist Big Freedia working the stage at The Greek Theatre tonight, performing "Motivate You." Now, guess what? We got Big Freedia right here with us. It is going to be more exciting. Thank you so much for being here.
BIG FREEDIA, SINGER: Thanks for having me.
SIDNER: When you're doing a performance like that --
BIG FREEDIA: Yeah.
SIDNER: -- and your energy is -- is that music? They bounce.
BIG FREEDIA: They give energy.
SIDNER: They give energy. But does it take a lot out of you when you're up there and you just have to go through it and be at the highest energy? Everyone is expecting that from you.
BIG FREEDIA: Most definitely. Well, you know, I feed off the audience. So, the energy that they give me, I give it back.
BIG FREEDIA: So, it's an even exchange.
SIDNER: What was it like tonight?
BIG FREEDIA: It was awesome. It was Juneteenth. We were celebrating.
BIG FREEDIA: Yes, freedom for sure.
JONES: Yeah. And you had a different kind of freedom. A new pace of freedom. How does that feel?
BIG FREEDIA: It feels really great. It felt like our Independence Day. And we really celebrate it for our people, and for them making it a national holiday as well is amazing.
SIDNER: This is a time when a lot of people have a lot of fear. There's a lot of fear that is going around --
BIG FREEDIA: Yeah.
SIDNER: -- from some of the political divides and just the way that we are with one another. We've got a little bit mean with each other.
BIG FREEDIA: We need more love.
SIDNER: I was going to ask, what is your message?
BIG FREEDIA: We need more love out here in this world.
SIDNER: More love.
BIG FREEDIA: Yeah.
SIDNER: Stephanie Elam was watching you in person. She is down there at The Greek. We are way up here on a top of the building. She was down in The Greek enjoying her life. Big Freedia is with us. Is there anything you want to say to her? Listen, listen, you need to see all of this bling over here.
ELAM: Oh, Big Freeida, I could see -- I could see all of the bling from my seat. I noticed, too. It's like all the bling, I was like, oh, that goes up. But no, it's just so much. And I was noticing how people were just learning about your music and feeling the vibe. I saw people jumping up the more you were performing.
And I was just wondering, as you are performing and you see people reacting like that, starting to get into the groove, what does it do for you while you are on stage?
BIG FREEDIA: Just gives me a better feeling to go even harder. You know, I want to get more people out of their seats.
SIDNER: You won a Grammy.
BIG FREEDIA: Yes, I did.
SIDNER: Tell me about that moment.
BIG FREEDIA: Well, you know, it was a special moment for me and for the culture of bounce music. You know, I'm grateful to Beyonce forever for allowing me to be a part of such a great project and just to represent for my community.
SIDNER: Big Freedia just dropped Beyonce. I'll be thinking about Beyonce.
BIG FREEDIA: Most definitely.
JONES: Bounce movement is a positive movement, kind of EDM and kind of hip-hop. Talk about (INAUDIBLE) for people who don't know what that is yet.
BIG FREEDIA: You know, it's New Orleans-based music. It got a lot to do with hurricane (ph) and shaking and all of that, but we also express freedom through dance. We have the girls' power and the boys' power. I just recently did a song with "Gracie's Corner." So, it bounces (ph) for everybody.
SIDNER: It's incredible to see you perform and do it so freely.
BIG FREEDIA: Yeah, most definitely.
SIDNER: What makes you feel the most free?
BIG FREEDIA: you know, my mom gave me confidence to be who I am. And, you know, and my church. My church home accepted me for who I was, allowed me to be free, allowed me to be musically-inclined. So, they gave me the motivation that I need to go out there and show them who I am.
JONES: You did it, and you do it. We love it.
BIG FREEDIA: Thank you so much.
SIDNER: And so do the Grammys.
BIG FREEDIA: Yeah.
SIDNER: It's yours.
BIG FREEDIA: (INAUDIBLE) Beyonce.
SIDNER: Big Freedia, thank you so much. Appreciate you being on.
BIG FREEDIA: You already know.
SIDNER: Okay. (LAUGHTER)
All right, we have more big guests ahead, including Davido, who brought the Afrobeats to The Greek Theatre tonight. He was born in the U.S. but lived in Nigeria for most of his life. We will have him and his music when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Davido singing his new hit single "Unavailable," another stand-up performance at the Juneteenth concert tonight. You are joining us now, Davido, and I have to tell you, I listen to your music, I bought up to your music, it is so good, it has got Afrobeats. Why do you think that Afrobeats have really come into their own here in America? It has been mixed with everything, hip-hop, you name it. It's there. I hear it everywhere now.
DAVIDO, SINGER: I mean, apart from the fact they're like everywhere like Africans are everywhere, like, you know, in the whole world, you know what I'm saying?
DAVIDO: But, you know, I feel like I was one of -- I moved out here. You know, coming out here when I was 15 years old, straight from Lagos, beating school. Even when I was in school, I used to play African music like 15 years ago, my friends, what's that? Oh, it's African music. They were like, oh, sounds (INAUDIBLE). You know what I'm saying? So, I always knew if we got the opportunity to be heard, I mean, like the western world would love it. You know what I was saying? So --
SIDNER: You were born in the states, you grew up in Nigeria.
DAVIDO: Yes, I was born in the states, went back home, and then came back out here for college. You know, that's when, you know, mixing of the cultures. So, I have lived in both worlds. I understand how to behave when I'm back home.
SIDNER: How is that different? Tell us what is the difference.
DAVIDO: I know how to move when I'm here.
SIDNER: How do you feel different? Like you go back and forth, right? You are the bridge.
JONES: You are the bridge between the two worlds.
DAVIDO: I mean, it is amazing because I understand both cultures. You know, that's what I told you. I was like -- I know how to act when I'm back home. But the fusion of both cultures, that has helped me so much in my life. You know what I'm saying? In everything, in my music, in the way I relate with people, the way we do business, you know what I'm saying?
JONES: Is it -- first of all, it seems like the Nigerians have just taken over. it's like it's something --
SIDNER: They're taking over Hollywood and everything else.
DAVIDO: It is more like sashimi?
DAVIDO: Fashion, you know, food --
JONES: Music, culture.
SIDNER: Music, culture.
JONES: So, what is it? Is it Nigeria Wakanda? Is that what it is? Tell me. Help me understand why you're taking over everything.
DAVIDO: Also, I feel like the Africans here became more confident to wrap us, to play the music outside. You know what I'm saying? Now, African DJs are proud to go out and get hosting and play in a club and have a whole Afrobeats set.
DAVIDO: You know what I'm saying? That was not happening. You know what I'm saying?
SIDNER: It's all over social media, Instagram, TikTok. It's infused and so much. Here's the thing that we should ever forget. Those beats? They have been around. They have been around. They are part of what forms the music all over the world. This did not just come from nowhere, the Cubans, the Americans, you name --
DAVIDO: Natural. Okay, let me give you a scenario. One day, just try it. So, let's say you are having a party and you play another genre. I don't want to name a genre. But yeah, you play a genre.
DAVIDO: Play it for, let's say, 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, just look around, and people are dancing, switching to Afrobeats. (LAUGHTER)
SIDNER: I've seen that. There is a transformation.
DAVIDO: Something happens. It's amazing to see. So, it is unexplainable.
DAVIDO: You know what I am saying? You know, I'm just happy that finally, you know, so happy to walk in and say, like, you know, man, you guys don't know what you have done for us. We are proud to come out now and say, I am African. You know what I am saying? I'm saying, like, thank you and it is just amazing to see.
JONES: Part of what we said we wanted to do was have a global celebration for freedom. And you kind of brought the global to our celebration for freedom. I mean, Juneteenth isn't something that is just for the United States. It's about freedom. And freedom is an important movement in Africa as well.
DAVIDO: Exactly, definitely. It may be from both places.
SIDNER: Both places.
DAVIDO: It only makes sense for me to be out here celebrating this. A lot of people back home don't know about what Juneteenth.
JONES: A lot of people in the United States don't really know. Part of what we are trying to do is to establish what it is supposed to be for everybody in United States and around the world. You are such a big part of that.
You know, the spirit. Were you shocked to see the reaction of the crowd? I mean, people went nuts! It was like Michael Jackson was here!
DAVIDO: We sell out, you know, arenas out here. But that's like my fans. You know what I am saying?
SIDNER: You know when you go to concert --
DAVIDO: When it is a Davido show, it was going to be lit. People are there for you. So, when I saw the lineup, I was like -- I like challenging myself. You know what I'm saying? I like doing something different sometimes. But when I was at the stage and picture came up --
SIDNER: They know me here?
DAVIDO: You know what I'm saying? Shout out to my band. I'm playing with them for over 10 years now, (INAUDIBLE), a big Afrobeats band. Everything is just coming together. I'm wearing an African designer.
SIDNER: It's great.
JONES: Freedom here, freedom back home, freedom all around the world.
SIDNER: All right. And a little bit of bling.
SIDNER: Let's recognize. Thank you so much, Davido.
DAVIDO: Thank you.
All right, check it out, saxophone great Mike Phillips is with us now straight from the Juneteenth stage at The Greek Theatre. Our conversation and a little music for you after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MIKE PHILLIPS PERFORMING)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Okay, saxophone great, genius, I'm sorry, Mike Phillips jazzing up Juneteenth, having a set with "The Lady in My Life, doing his thing. Mike Phillips, so glad that you are here with us. How the heck do you hold those notes for so long with all that energy while dancing and going like this to the crowd?
JONES: And to the crowd.
SIDNER: How do you do it?
JONES: -- dancer?
MIKE PHILLIPS, MUSICIAN: Listen, I'm everything. Back in high school, I used to play in a band and then play football, too.
Halftime, I would march with the band, and then go back and score a touchdown.
JONES: Wow. PHILLIPS: So, being active? I treat this like a sport. Like engaging. Making sure that the crowd is into it. Making sure that the band, they're playing their part as cerebral as it is. That they have to connect, too. So, Adam Blackstone and the band, ha had them smacking.
JONES: I think that people had no idea what was coming. You walk out on stage, you're carrying a saxophone, people are going to lay back for some Kenny G.
PHILLIPS: You know, it's so crazy that you say that because I think, you know, Miles Davis was instrumental because he always had his pulse on the culture.
PHILLIPS: The culture is a living organism that when it moves, we have to move with it. The culture dictates the rules. So, I think sometimes, we cannot cut off the culture and then move jazz to the suburbs and let it just live without the culture, dictating where to go.
So (INAUDIBLE), what they do is the culture makes the rules and we just follow it. Do rights of passage because we are standing on the shoulders of Dizzy Gillespie, the great woman of jazz. Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald. You know, I'm Charlie Parker. So, that show is about that.
JONES: All present tonight. They were all president tonight.
SIDNER: They were present tonight, they were present in you, and so many of the other performers. Stephanie Elam is down there. She was there in front, in person, watching this happened. I do want to quickly mention because we all have something in common, I think, with most of the world. Huge Prince fans. We were devastated when he left this earth. And you got a front row seat to see what Prince was all about because you played with him.
PHILLIPS: Yes. He asked me to be in the new power generation. He looked me in the eye and I stared at him, and fell in love for about three seconds.
SIDNER: We all did.
PHILLIPS: I was like, I don't want to look, and then I looked and I said, oh my God!
PHILLIPS: And that's how I hooked up with my brother. He brought people together in the name of what it is to have great performances. But also, Prince taught me about the Nicholas brothers. He went back in history. So, you are not going to get on the stage with him unless you understood the history of the significance of what it is to have -- to be a real musician.
SIDNER: Steph is out there. Stephanie, if you have any questions, because I know you saw him and lost your mind.
ELAM: I did. And because I already -- I saw him before he left here. I'll be honest. I was like Mike Phillips! And now, I want to call him -- I just want to call you Mike Philly, if that is okay. Mike Philly. Mike Philly --
PHILLIPS: That's good.
ELAM: And on top of it, I was watching the crowd and I was, like, okay, saxophone man, okay, all right, sure. And then at the end of it, everyone was on their feet. People were -- their minds were blown with him playing those notes. And then not just playing the notes but dancing and jumping while he was playing the notes. It was fantastic.
But here's the thing, I have been listening to your music, Mike Philly, and I am trying to figure out how a man could be like, I'm going to play, lift every voice and sing the black national anthem, and then also do a rendition of "Three's Company," like "Legit," the TV show that we used to watch when we were kids, he has got a rendition of that on his album. The man has got range. You have no idea.
No one inspires you, Mike.
PHILLIPS: I think what inspires me, like "Three's Company, when I'm covering that, my mother used to -- that was her favorite show. So, music, when you get to tap into nostalgic moments and retrospectively go back to moments that made you feel good, what made me feel good was watching my mother sit down and laugh at Jack Tripper. So, musically, I wanted to recreate that.
And with "Lift Every Voice and Sing," I am 1000% (INAUDIBLE), unapologetic Black man who wants to let people understand that even though America has some great opportunities, we have to retrospectively go back and understand the words of "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Let us march on until victory is won.
SIDNER: And it has not been one.
PHILLIPS: And if it hasn't been won, then the song is a beautiful mantra to keep marching and hoping and wishing for the best while making everyone accountable for where America is right now. But it can get better if we all work together.
SIDNER: Mike, it has been a privilege to share this concert, this holiday with all of you, and you, gentlemen, and you, Stephanie, and everyone at CNN. Happy Juneteenth. Mike Phillips, as a gift to us and the rest of the world that is watching, can you play a sound?
PHILLIPS: Definitely. I can play what we just talked about.
(MIKE PHILLIPS PERFORMING)