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Belafonte Taps Fairfield Singer/Songwriter For Music Fest

Fairfield singer/songwriter Kristen Graves will perform at the "Many Rivers To Cross" Festival this weekend, along with John Legend, Dave Matthews, Chris Rock and Common.
Fairfield singer/songwriter Kristen Graves will perform at the "Many Rivers To Cross" Festival this weekend, along with John Legend, Dave Matthews, Chris Rock and Common. Photo Credit: Facebook

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A Fairfield singer/songwriter got a bit of a shock recently when music icon Harry Belafonte invited her to perform at the “Many Rivers To Cross” Festival, taking the stage along with Dave Matthews, John Legend, Chris Rock, Carlos Santana and more this weekend.

Kristen Graves, the former state troubadour of Connecticut, will debut a new song Saturday at the Georgia festival at the behest of Belafonte’s daughter, Gina, who heard her sing at Lincoln Center two years ago at a Pete and Toshi Seeger tribute.

“I had no idea that my performance that afternoon would lead to this invitation, but I’m so thrilled!” Graves said.

“Many Rivers To Cross,” a festival of music, art and justice, takes place in Chattahoochee, just outside Atlanta. The two-day event is sponsored by Sankofa, a social justice organization co-directed by Gina Belafonte.

Gina Belafonte and Graves have crossed paths a few times at clean water and Black Lives Matters events since their initial meeting.

“She’s a great activist and always stands up for what she believes in,” Graves said.

Among other tunes, Graves plans to debut her song “Soldier,” which features the line “I’m a soldier, I’m a soldier/My weapon is my song.”

“I can’t wait to perform it,” she said. “I’ll be singing it about 100 times between now and Saturday to make sure that I feel fully prepared.”

In October, Graves will be taking her songs to the Midwest with a number of shows in Wisconsin, including school visits to promote her slightly tongue-in-cheek Just Be Nice political party.

Then she’ll be back in town for a large Nov. 13 benefit concert with Peter Yarrow and Frank Waln supporting Simply Smiles at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts. Based in Westport, Simply Smiles supports impoverished children and their families and the concert will benefit a Lakota community.

And she’s working on an album she hopes to release in early spring 2017.

“Never a dull moment!” she said.

To learn more about Graves, visit www.kristengraves.com .

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