Expo to highlight neo-soul culture

This weekend the Leon County Civic Center will be transformed into a haven of Afrocentricity, culture and soul.

From Nov. 1-3 the Neo-Soul Expo, sponsored by the Mandisa Ngozi Braiding & Art Gallery, will bring fashion, music, workshops and art to the Tallahassee community and homecoming visitors.

Valencia Jones, co-owner of Mandisa Ngozi, described neo-soul as a rendition of cultural traditions that include hair braiding, jewelry making, art and music.

“This is nothing new,” she said. “It’s just a fresh twist on what has been passed down from our (black Americans’) ancestors.”

The Expo will feature performers from a diverse talent pool that includes dead prez, Odyssey, Rastafunk, the Back Talk Poetry Troupe and Smoke.

There will also be workshops on topics ranging from self-empowerment to relationships.

On Friday and Saturday Jones will host a hair and fashion explosion to preview the latest natural hair and eclectic fashion designs.

“I always said someone should have a neo-soul party and get Erykah and Jill to come down,” said Odyssey keyboard player Sylvester Tomblin, 27, a jazz studies student from Miami.

But there is enough local talent to make the event a success, he said.

The Expo’s goal goes beyond entertainment, Jones said.

About 50 vendors will set up stands in the Civic Center offering food, books, art and more.

This will encourage Expo attendees to spend money on black businesses, Jones said.

The event will give non-Tallahassee residents the opportunity to see what the city has to offer, said Jonathan Smith, 21, a business student from Montgomery, Ala.

“We wanted to offer something positive to the community,” Jones said. “And it’s something entire families can do together.”

Tickets are available for $10 (one-day pass) and $25 (three-day pass) at www.ticketmaster.com, the FAMU Credit Union, the Mandisa Ngozi Braiding & Art Gallery, Amen Ra’s Bookstore, Wildstyle Entertainment, and Foundation Creation.

The Expo will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information call (888) 945-0506 or visit www.mandisa-ngozi.com.