Photo by Daniel Randall.

Natural Beauties Share Why CURLFEST 2018 Is More Than Just a Hair Festival

Here's what they had to say.

There's something about being surrounded by black people celebrating natural hair that makes CURLFEST so many things at once—a beauty festival, a family picnic, a bloggers hub, and an outdoor party to remember.

The Curly Girl Collective describes CURLFEST as a "Mecca of afros, twist-outs, curls (and beards) set to a soundtrack of positive energy." That's exactly what it looked like this past Saturday when thousands of people strolled into Prospect Park, Brooklyn as afrobeats, soca, dancehall, and hip hop jams blasted throughout the day. Hair was moisturized to perfection and complemented with great style—from floral jumpsuits to more casual t-shirts with slogans like, "Black Mixed with Black" and "Somewhere Between Oprah and Cardi B."

We asked some of the festival-goers to share what the festival meant to them and why they chose the people they came with to celebrate with them.

Here's what they had to say, with photography by Daniel Randall.

Renetta + Renee

Photo by Daniel Randall.

"We are twins, so everywhere she goes I go. You know how Issa Rae says she's rooting for everyone black? We are rooting for everyone natural."

Channy + His Daughter

Photo by Daniel Randall.

"I came with my daughter because she is a beautiful black girl."


Photo by Daniel Randall.

"It's beautiful being surrounded by black beauty that isn't your usual experience. Black people are beautiful in all shades. I love it here."

Christina, Danii, Beverly + Valencia

Photo by Daniel Randall.

"We came out with our girls at CURLFEST because we actually met last year at a Deva Curl event right before CURLFEST and we became instant friends; we chilled. So this year we are back, and we clicking and just having a good ass time."

Tinu + Des

Photo by Daniel Randall.

"I feel right at home. Nigerian flag waving on the stage. Nigerian music blasting from the speakers. It's like an outdoor Lagos club right in Brooklyn." —Tinu

Alexiz + Devri

Photo by Daniel Randall.

"This [festival] is the spice that I need, spice in the pot that I needed. It's always the highlight of my year. We just moved to New York a year ago, and I wanted to break her into CURLFEST." —Devri

Janene, Lexi + Janelle

Photo by Daniel Randall.

"This is honestly where I come to be with my sisters, and to make new ones. For me CURLFEST has less to do with curly hair, but embracing each other's hair stories." —Janelle

Charnette + Nic

Photo by Daniel Randall.

"I came with her cause she's my sister. I love seeing everyone here united. I'm in my element." —Charnette

Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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