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It isn’t just the stacked thoroughbred field that will be garnering attention at this weekend’s Preakness Stakes, fans will also get to see a stacked musical lineup as part of “Preakness LIVE,” a food, music and art festival taking place in conjunction with the 147th running of the marquee horse racing event.
Preakness LIVE will feature performances from Grammy winners Lauryn Hill and Megan Thee Stallion and NAACP Image Award winner D-Nice, along with Baltimore-bred singer Brittney Spencer and Darin Atwater & The Soulful Symphony. There will also be a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by WanMor, the singing group from Boyz II Men member Wanya Morris’ family.
The new event is a collaboration between hospitality group 1/ST EXPERIENCE and Kevin Liles, CEO and Chairman of 300 Entertainment and Elektra Music Group. For Liles, the event is a chance to showcase his hometown of Baltimore and bring a new audience out to celebrate one of the marquee entertainment events in the city.
“What we’re building with Preakness LIVE is a movement, not a moment,” Liles says. “As a native son of this great city and a life-long fan of Preakness, I’m so proud to help bring an event of this scale and scope home, creating a cultural milestone both for residents and visitors rediscovering Baltimore’s charms.”
The Preakness LIVE festival takes over the Pimlico Race Course infield this Friday, May 20, and ticket prices range from $49 to $175 at preakness.com. While exact set times have yet to be announced, both Megan Thee Stallion and Hill are expected to perform hour-long sets, while D-Nice will bring his popular “Club Quarantine” to the people IRL.
“I wanted to create a homecoming feeling,” Liles tells Rolling Stone, about how he curated the performers list. “How can you have Preakness and not have Megan Thee Stallion? How can you invite 30-year friends to celebrate one of the biggest events in sports without Ms. Lauryn Hill? How can we not bring ‘Club Quarantine’ to Baltimore with D-Nice? How can we not involve a HBCU school and the historic marching band from Morgan State University?”
In addition to offering tickets to the public, Liles says he is working with 1/ST EXPERIENCE to distribute 500 tickets to residents living in Park Heights Renaissance, an affordable housing community located just two miles from the race course. Park Heights Renaissance’s annual George E. Mitchell Park Heights Community Fellowship Grant of $30,000 will also be awarded during race weekend, with a special presentation from the Winner’s Circle on Black-Eyed Susan Day, May 20.
“Basketball and football were low-cost entry sports that most people like me had the opportunity and privilege to play in [but] horse racing, owning a horse, and The Triple Crown were impossibilities,” Liles says. “[But] with my 37 years in the music business [and] attending Preakness eight times… how can I not be involved? The city of Baltimore, the neighborhood I played in and grew up in, is now also a world stage where I have the opportunity to share my world and my love for the city that raised me.”
The actual running of the Preakness Stakes is always held on the third Saturday in May, and this year’s race takes place on May 21. In conjunction with the big race, Park Heights Renaissance will curate the first annual George “Spider” Anderson Preakness Music and Arts Festival, which pays tribute to the the first African-American jockey to win the Preakness Stakes in 1889. The day-long festival takes place on May 21, in the Park Heights neighborhood and will feature live music, food and live streaming of the days’ races.
Preakness LIVE, meantime, will also welcome a slate of A-list chefs for the weekend, including celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio, Marcus Samuelsson and Gail Simmons. And local Baltimore artists will have their work showcased in the Pimlico infield with unique installations throughout the grounds.
The entire weekend is part of 1/ST’s new long-term campaign, dubbed “Baltimore 1/ST,” which will “champion the race’s connection to Baltimore by leveraging the Preakness platform to highlight and impact local culture year-round across the pillars of music, art, fashion, culinary, sports and community,” per a release from 1/ST.
“The Preakness 147 celebration, including everything we are doing on Black-Eyed Susan Day and on Preakness Day, will bring together entertainers, artists, lifestyle, hospitality and culinary leaders, and the community for weekend of events that will put Baltimore front and center,” adds Jimmy Vargas, CEO, 1/ST EXPERIENCE. “We are thrilled to be working with Mayor Scott, Kevin Liles, Yolanda Jiggetts and some of the city’s top cultural shapeshifters to reaffirm and evolve the connection between the Preakness and the people of Baltimore.”
Want to watch the Preakness Stakes from home? The race takes place at 6:45pm ET / 3:45pm PT this Saturday, airing live on NBC. You can also stream the Preakness Stakes online via Peacock.