WerQfest Returns This Summer To Celebrate St. Louis’ Black Queer Community — In Person
As the social justice movement gained momentum last summer, singer-songwriter Tre'von Griffith sought to create a venue for artists like himself — Black and queer — to showcase their talents.
WerQfest, which Griffith produced alongside his partner Shelton Boyd-Griffith, debuted during Pride month last year, in the midst of the pandemic. From a stage at the Grandel, it featured Black artists in the St. Louis area who are queer, trans and nonbinary. Audience members watched the show online.
“It was supposed to be a one-off type thing; it was something in response to the current climate of the world really,” Griffith, better known by his stage name Tre G, explained on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “[But] we got a great response and people thought it was a space that needed to continue.”
So the festival is back on this year. And this time, people will get to dance and sing with each other in person at the City Foundry STL on June 26.
In addition to Tre G and Simply Be.Be, Eric Dontè headlines this year’s event. His music has been described as “Ghetto Trance,” a combination of hip-hop, R&B, punk and trance, but he’s always experimenting with new sounds — and looks.
Dontè’s standout visuals can be found in his “A Wig is Born” music video, in which he donned a huge rainbow-colored wig. He said he wrote the song about how the wig made him feel.
Dontè also joined Wednesday’s program to talk about his music. He said his performance at this weekend’s festival will be his first in-person performance since the start of the pandemic.
“I'm just ready for the intimacy and everything, just like the crowd [and] energy,” he said.
When asked if the rainbow-colored wig will make a presence on the stage this weekend, Dontè said, “I retired the wig — but people are calling for it.”
In addition to celebrate the region’s queer artists, WerQfest will highlight local organizations and changemakers. Activist LadyAshley Gregory was awarded the Community Advocacy Award, and dancer Anthony “Redd” Williams received the Arts Impact Award.
“We're talking about people who are making impact when they are working with Black and brown people in the community and especially the LGBTQ community,” Griffith said. “We're really excited to be able to honor them and give them their flowers while they're here.”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.