America’s largest free concert, the annual Philly Fourth of July Jam, has partnered with VH1 for exclusive broadcast, digital and live streaming rights. This year, the concert whose live show routinely draws over 500,000 people in the audience, will now be available to viewers nationwide through live broadcast on VH1 and high-definition music channel Palladia and live streaming on VH1.com, the network said this week.
The culminating event of the weeklong WAWA Welcome America Festival, the Philly Fourth of July Jam has taken place on the famed Ben Franklin Parkway for the past 20 years for huge crowds, featuring live musical performances from A-List artists and a full scale fireworks display at the end of the final performance. Performers over the years including Elton John, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Jonas Brothers, Lionel Richie, John Legend, Sara Bareilles, Queen Latifah, Common and Lauryn Hill, VH1 said.
The promoters will work with VH1/Palladia executives on talent booking, with a formal line-up announcement with additional details coming this spring.
The deal was negotiated by Shawn Gee, longtime manager of The Roots and Jill Scott and head of touring for Blueprint Group; and Scott Mirkin, the festival and concert’s longtime executive producer. Shawn Gee, alongside The Roots members Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter, became executive producers of the concert in 2010, joining Scott Mirkin and Geoff Gordon, president, Mid-Atlantic, of Live Nation. The executive team spearheaded many changes to the show, such as changing the concert format from a traditional opening, support and headline act format to that of a two-hour-long, multi-artist, multi-genre jam session featuring The Roots as house band.
"We are excited to partner with VH1 for this extraordinary concert. I've worked in the past with Rick Krim, Lee Rolontz, Ben Zurier and the VH1 team as a producer on VH1’s DIVAS and Hip Hop Honors shows, and I couldn't think of better partners to present the Fourth of July Jam to the world. As a native Philadelphian, I may be a bit biased, but it's only natural, given the historical significance, and the musical relevance, that Philly own the Fourth of July holiday,” Shawn Gee said in a release. “While we are proud of our 500,000 person strong audience, it’s only right that the world gets to see the largest free concert in America, even if from the comfort of home. Mayor Michael Nutter and his team have given Scott, Ahmir, Tarik, Geoff and I the creative freedom to leverage our collective resources to build out the show, however in our first meeting with the mayor and his team, he made it clear that his goal was to get a national broadcast partner for the event, and I'm glad we were able to deliver that to Mayor Nutter and to the city of Philadelphia."
“We are plussing the 4th of July holiday for our VH1 viewers with simply one of the best and biggest concerts of the summer,” Tom Calderone, president, VH1 and Palladia, said in the release. “We are proud to partner once again with Shawn and The Roots, an amazing team of creative visionaries and consummate professionals who create this amazing free show each summer for hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians. We are so looking forward to sharing the city’s musical and historic heritage for all the music lovers around the entire country to enjoy.”
Philadelphia also is home to The Roots Picnic music festival and Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival.