FirstWorks’ Summer Beats Concert Series returns to Roger Williams Park


For the past 20 years, FirstWorks has been a vital entity in Rhode Island’s cultural sphere with their inclusion of world-class performing arts while accompanying these experiences with education programs. This endeavor has attracted nearly a million participants within this time period while positively impacting local youth, their families and their communities. The fantastic result is due to the organization’s unique presentation and curation of events with their Summer Beats Concert Series being one of several examples. For its fifth edition, the series will take place at the Roger Williams Park Grandstand throughout July. It promises to be a global journey for anyone who attends along with being a prime opportunity for folks to put on their dancing shoes and move to the music.

Each installment of the Summer Beats Concert Series is free while guaranteeing an abundance of fun for the entire family. It also promises to provide an array of musical and ethnic styles where people who attend can enjoy a type of art from a different part of the globe without having to do any extensive traveling.

“FirstWorks is thrilled to bring this welcoming concert series back to the park for a fifth year, expanding our partnership with Roger Williams Park Conservancy,” FirstWorks’ Executive Artistic Director Kathleen Pletcher says about the series. “Our lineup invites all to dance their way from the Ivory Coast through the Southern Hemisphere and back up the East Coast corridor, all without leaving Providence! There is so much joy to experience through our artists this summer. Bring your dancing shoes, bring a picnic, bring a friend. All are welcome to join in the fun!”

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with FirstWorks to bring dynamic, world-class talent to Providence’s backyard for the entire community to enjoy this summer, no passports needed,” adds Bonnie Nickerson, who is the Executive Director of the Roger Williams Park Conservancy.

The first night of the series is on July 11 with Ivory Coast singer, dancer, percussionist and songwriter Dobet Gnahoré performing. Gnahoré is a Grammy-winning artist who pushes the musical roots of her home country in a variety of directions. She’s also known for her fantastic approach to dancing, exuberant stage presence and emotional way of singing. Her lyrics come across in various languages ranging from French to English to numerous Ivorian vernaculars while relaying a sense of optimism. Gnahoré honors the legacy and current impact of African women through her craft with empowerment and encouragement of others being her primary goal.

July 14 is the second part of the series with the tropical Afro-Latin sextet combo Quitapenas taking the bandstand stage. Influenced by rhythmic music of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, this band aims to get folks lost in their songs while having them let go of their worries and inhibitions. The band consists of sons of immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico while taking influences from the cultures of Angola, Peru, Brazil, Colombia and other countries. Their most recent release is the single “Bailando, Gozando” that came out back in 2022 with the B-side “Buena Que’sta”, which is available for listening on Spotify and Bandcamp. Chances are that the people who show up will hear both songs performed live.

Closing out the Summer Beats Concert Series on July 21 will be La Excelencia, who are a staple of the salsa dancing scene in New York City. Inspired by the sounds of the ‘70s and today’s socio-political landscape, this 12-piece band has a knack for putting on performances that go beyond their genre while engaging audiences in energetic fashion. They have four studio albums under their belt with 2020’s “Machete” being their latest full-length release. La Excelencia have also had their music featured via several indie flicks, TV shows and compilations. They’re a prime example of the danceable vibe that this string of shows will be providing and they’ll be exhibiting this while conveying a mindful message.

Each show as part of the upcoming series starts at 6pm while being all ages and free admission. For more information and details for the series, log on to FirstWorks’ website at


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