RICHMOND -- Many moons have waxed and waned since Dawn Robinson's chart-topping heyday with En Vogue, the 1990s R&B supergroup that was a staple on radio airwaves, award shows and popular television programs.
But Robinson, who broke with the group in 1997 and sold millions more records as a solo artist and with the group Lucy Pearl, plans to perform many of her signature hits to a hometown audience at Saturday's Juneteenth festival in Richmond.
"I used to hang at my friend's houses in Richmond and go to movies there when I was a teenager," Robinson said in a telephone interview. "It will be good to be back, and everybody who comes out to party with me is going to hear all the big hits and then some."
Robinson heads a star-studded lineup that includes Ohio-based funk band Slave in headlining the 11th annual Juneteenth Family Day Festival at Nicholl Park, which is consistently one of the biggest Juneteenth celebrations on the West Coast. The event is sponsored by the Neighborhood Block Association, the city and Chevron. It will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The free annual event commemorates the spontaneous celebration that erupted on June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were informed by Union soldiers that the Civil War had ended more than a month earlier and they were free.
The celebration will start with a parade at 10 a.m. at Cutting Boulevard and Marina Way. Contra Costa Community College District Chancellor Helen Benjamin will serve as grand marshal.
At Nicholl Park, located at 33rd Street and Macdonald Avenue, there will be two stages of entertainment, health screenings, ethnic food, a children's expo, a youth poetry slam, a "Nae Nae" dance contest, local vendors and a special display commemorating the Black Panther Party in Richmond.
Throughout a career spanning 25 years, Robinson sold more than 11 million records with En Vogue and Lucy Pearl.
Robinson, 48, said she thinks this will be her first live Juneteenth performance.
Robinson said she is working on a solo project and doesn't have time to think much about her days with the group that helped launch her career.
"There was a lot of dissension and division in the group back then, but it was great while it lasted," Robinson said. "When it doesn't work out, you have to keep moving forward."
Robinson promised that attendees will enjoy live performances of 1990s mega hits like "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" and "Don't Let Go."
The other headliner Saturday will be Slave, the six-piece funk savants who charted top-10 R&B hits in the 1970s and 1980s and still tour today.
Mark Adams Jr., son of the original bass player, will lead the band Saturday.
"We've heard about Richmond's Juneteenth celebration for years; it's one of the great festivals of Northern California," Adams said. "When the organizers reached out to us, we were excited to do it. We know Richmond loves the funk."
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/sfbaynewsrogers.
What: 11th annual Juneteenth Family Day Festival and Parade
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Parade begins at 10 a.m. at Cutting Boulevard and Marina Way and runs to Nicholl Park at 33rd Street and Macdonald Avenue
Why: Commemorates June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were informed they were free