For years, the Freedom Over Texas extravaganza has been Houston’s go-to Fourth of July spectacle. Folk from around the Greater Houston area and beyond pack downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods to get a glimpse of the fireworks and catch the lively concerts.
But, in this era of COVID-19, organizers are forced to take a novel approach. On Monday, June 15, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that this year’s “reimagining” of the celebration is going virtual. “Watch it on television, in your backyard, on a balcony,” said Turner during a June 15 press conference.
CultureMap news partner, ABC13, will broadcast the entire event with a statewide simulcast on Saturday, July 4 from 7 to 10 pm. (Check local listings for times.) This year’s title sponsor is Shell, dubbing the event Shell Freedom Over Texas.
The program will kick off with a patriotic tribute by the Houston Symphony, according to press release, followed by performances by Houston rappers, humanitarians, and philanthropists, Bun B and Trae Tha Truth. Bun B and Tra the Truth will be joined by nationally acclaimed mariachi band Mariachi Imperial De America, and Houston sibling Norteño trio Los Luzeros De Rioverde.
Country music icon Pat Green, the three-time Grammy-nominated Texas artists, will close out the diverse evening.
Local and regional favorite acts will join the show from their stage of choice for virtual appearances and throw-back tributes including:
- Lyle Lovett – Legendary four-time Grammy Award-winning country music singer/songwriter
- Josh Turner – Award winning American country and gospel singer known for hits “Your Man” and “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and 2015 Freedom Over Texas headliner
- La Mafia – Houston’s own four-time Grammy Award-winning Latin group, celebrating their 40th anniversary
- Hunter Hayes – 2017 Freedom Over Texas headliner and CMA Award-winning artist
The evening will culminate in a burst of fireworks that can be seen on ABC13 or in the skies near downtown. Cox Media radio stations will simulcast the music.
Each year Freedom Over Texas donates a portion of the proceeds to the Houston Food Bank. This year features a “Text to Give” campaign to benefit the food bank and initiatives to help close the digital divide.
For the fifth year, Walmart and Dr Pepper have partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation to give a home to a deserving combat-wounded veteran during the broadcast.
“We will celebrate Houston’s diversity and America's Freedom at the city's signature Independence Day event in a new way," said Turner, in a statement. “This is an opportunity for us to recognize our community for its perseverance through the ongoing pandemic. I am personally grateful to our new title sponsor, Shell Oil Company, and new fireworks sponsor, Reliant. Their support means we can also honor organizations that have been on the frontlines during the health crisis. I am also grateful for our returning annual sponsors Walmart, Dr. Pepper, and Bud Light Seltzer, who continue to support this important community event.”