'Make Music Day' Plans 4,000 Free Concerts Nationwide

Annual global event returns June 21st honoring Ella Fitzgerald, Otis Redding and more

Make Music Day, the free global festival, returns in June to 50 cities across America. Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

The annual Make Music Day festival will return this year on June 21st with over 4,000 free events – shows, music lessons and jam sessions – in 50 cities around the United States. Make Music Day is a festival for the people, welcoming aspiring musicians of every age, genre and skill-level. 

The festival aims to celebrate music as a collaborative public activity rather than a solitary bedroom endeavor. To that end, a number of cities (Atlanta, Chattanooga, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York and Philadelphia) are setting up street studios, where producers can make music with anyone who wanders down the block. More than 150 "Mass Appeals" will also take place, convening large groups of musicians – all playing the same instrument – for impromptu performances.

Several of this year's events are tailored to honor the history of specific locations. The Ella Fitzgerald repertoire will be celebrated in New York at the National Jazz Museum and in the singer's former Los Angeles neighborhood; in both settings, passersby will be invited to sing tunes associated with Fitzgerald with help from a live pianist. In Madison, Wisconsin, singers will remember Otis Redding near the lake where his plane fatally crashed in 1967.

Make Music Day also celebrates music as a tool for activism. In Boston, Chicago and Cleveland, performances will be dedicated to racial justice. And in El Paso, Texas, local players will perform with Mexican musicians to make music on either side of the border.

Make Music Day began in France in 1982 and now takes place in more than 750 cities spanning 120 countries around the world. For more information on events and participating cities, visit the Make Music Day website.