Aloe Blacc gets patriotic with The Roots for 4th of July Jam

Blacc is just one of the many performers on the Fourth. Prior to the main stage, up-and-coming regional talent and locals, including the Phosphenes, Donn T, Mozaic Flow, Al 1 Thing and Brianna Cash, play the Questlove stage on the Parkway from noon to 6 p.m. Credit: FilmMagic
Blacc is just one of the many performers on the Fourth in Philadephia. Prior to the main stage, up-and-coming regional talent and locals, including the Phosphenes, Donn T, Mozaic Flow, Al 1 Thing and Brianna Cash, play the Questlove stage on the Parkway from noon to 6 p.m. / FilmMagic

Barbecues, block parties, fireworks — it’s how many of us celebrate the Fourth of July.

Yet for rising star Aloe Blacc, who is featured in the annual Philly 4th of July Jam starring The Roots, the barbecues and fireworks of his youth in Southern California meant just a little something extra for him and his family.

“My parents and my family are from Panama,” Blacc says. “[The Fourth of July] was a special moment because they were celebrating being American and having that experience of coming to this country to make a better life for themselves and their family.”

Blacc, the voice of Avicii’s 2013 heavy rotation hit “Wake Me Up,” was born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III.

“My parents … didn’t have a Civil Rights movement, so black folks had trouble getting jobs,” Blacc says. “There was a lot of discrimination all throughout Central and South America, and still is. They came to the U.S. where they’re obviously socially forward and getting with the times and being respectful to humanity.”

It’s been a big 12 months for Blacc, from the exposure of “Wake Me Up” to his current hit, the stirring and soulful “The Man.”

“‘Wake Me Up’ was a huge opportunity to introduce my voice and my songwriting to a lot of people and it was a great way to follow up with that,” says Blacc.

He first emerged as a rapper and scored a minor hit with 2010’s “I Need a Dollar,” which was used as the theme song for HBO’s “How to Make It in America.” And now he’s playing with The Roots backing him. Looks like he has made it in America.


Joining in the Jam

The Jam will be broadcast live on VH1 and Palladia, and it is — not hyperbolically — being billed as the largest free concert in America.

The lineup includes The Roots, now the house band for “The Tonight Show,” Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande, who until this summer you may have known as star of Nickelodeon’s “Sam & Cat,” but is making a different name for herself with “Problems” her collaboration with Iggy Azalea.


Philly 4th of July Jam and Fireworks
Friday, 7-11 p.m.
Broadcast at 8 p.m. on VH1 and


Mayor reveals new tech hub Digital.NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Digital.NYC on Wednesday, a new online platform aimed at connecting all things tech in New York City. The public-private partnership…


Falling debris hits two men in Times Square

Two men were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after being hit by falling debris from 110 feet above Times Square. Nancy Greco from the…


Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough accused of misusing campaign…

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use. Scarborough, a Democrat…


U.S. Secret Service director Pierson resigns under fire

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire on Wednesday after a series of security lapses came to light.


TV watch list, Wednesday, Oct. 1: 'Criminal Minds,'…

The "Criminal Minds" team adds some supernatural assistance, as the "Ghost Whisperer" herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt, joins the show. She's playing an FBI agent, but you never know when someone…


See the most popular Pandora station in your…

Who knew Bachata music was so popular?

The Word

The Word: Twilight just won't die

You thought our "Twilight" days were behind us, didn't you? Well think again. Series creator Stephenie Meyer (who would rather you not ask about "Twilight"…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…


Rex Ryan fields more questions about Geno Smith,…

The idea Geno Smith will be replaced by backup Michael Vick appears to be all smoke, as the Jets are intent to ride with their second-round draft pick.


Will Beatty playing like franchise left tackle again…

Left tackle Will Beatty, who is the elder-statesman of Giants’ line, has turned around his season and become a consistent force on Manning’s blindside.


John Conner back with Jets for second stint

He'll be back. It's "Terminator 2" for the Jets, who brought back John Conner to the team on Tuesday after placing fullback Tommy Bohanon on…


Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry…

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry Donnell will stay solid


Creating a support system for minority women in…

When Kathryn Finney founded digitalundivided — an organization devoted to engaging minority communities with the tech world — she didn’t know quite what to expect.…


We can learn a lot from animals about…

There’s a lot we can learn about love from the birds and the bees — and the chickens, monkeys and squirrels that we share the…


Saint Laurent

Our review of the Saint Laurent Spring '15 show at Paris Fashion Week.


Céline: Paris Fashion Week Spring 2015

Our review of the Celine Spring '15 show during Paris Fashion Week.