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Sugar Hill Gang to perform as part of the Downtown Alive free outdoor concert series.

May 08, 2018 • by Reading Downtown Improvement District
Downtown Alive Outdoor Concert Series

Sugar Hill Gang – the groundbreaking pioneers of Hip Hop — and special guest NOVA scheduled to perform as part of the Downtown Alive free outdoor concert series.

When: Wednesday, August 15 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Where: Fifth and Penn Streets in downtown Reading

Armed with the hits “Rapper’s Delight”, “8th Wonder”, “Apache” and “Jump On It’, Sugar Hill Gang will have downtown Reading rocking during this free concert. Opening the show will be Reading’s own up-and-coming rapper NOVA, along with 3’s Co.’s DJ Gregg Nyce and Evolution.

Sugar Hill Gang, known as the first nationally popular African American hip-hop group, comprised three members: Mike Wright (Wonder Mike), Henry Jackson (Big Bank Hank), and Guy O’ Brien (Master Gee), all from Englewood, N.J. The group is best known for its 1979 hit single, “Rapper’s Delight,” which was also the first hip hop single to rank in the top 40 hits and to become part of a multi-platinum-selling album.

The song is also credited with popularizing hip hop as a new musical genre. In 1979 they became the first hip hop group to perform on American Bandstand. At the time “Rapper’s Delight” was ranked No. 36 on the U.S. pop chart and No. 4 on the rhythm & blues chart. The song eventually went on to sell over 2 million copies, and became the highest selling 12-inch single ever. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it No. 248 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The group released several other singles: “8th Wonder”, “Apache” and “Jump On It”, all three which are still staples on R&B and hip hop radio stations.

Julio Franceschi Jr. of Reading is professionally known as “NOVA”. One of six children, he began performing at various community events and won several school talent shows in his early teens. In 2016, he was selected to participate in Season 3 of Lifetime Network’s hit television show “The Rap Game”, produced and executive produced by Queen Latifah and Jermaine Dupri. Over the course of the 13-week show, NOVA survived several competitive challenges and went on to win the coveted title.

The Downtown Alive concert series is presented by the Reading Downtown Improvement District in partnership with Illusion Sound & Lighting, which is booking the acts, and Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

Each concert will have a festival atmosphere and include food trucks and beer and wine for sale. A “kids play zone” will also be set up and feature a variety of activities for children.

Berks County Community Foundation, which has been financially supporting the concert series since its inception in 2015, is providing $100,000 from the Hawley and Myrtle Quier Fund. Berks County Convention Center Authority is also contributing $40,000. Weidenhammer once again will be the major sponsor.

Additional sponsors are the Reading Parking Authority, which will provide free parking at its Fourth and Cherry Streets Garage starting at 4 p.m. on the date of each concert; and DoubleTree by Hilton Reading as the hospitality sponsor.

More information on the series can be found at

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