The 2022 World Games are officially arriving in Birmingham this week, and the anticipation can be felt throughout the city. In addition to the planet’s best athletes all convening in the Magic City, we are seeing a good amount of benefits surrounding the competitions taking place. New art and a lot of great concerts coming to town are among the most exciting pluses we will be experiencing over the next couple of weeks. Alabama music has already been represented by the official theme song for this year’s World Games, “Hope of Alabama”. The star-studded anthem brought together state legends including Randy Owen, Young Bleu, Jamey Johnson, Pastor Mike Jr., Worth The Wait, Chuck Leavell, Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Martha Reeves, Blind Boys of Alabama, Sara Evans, and The World Games Youth and Adult Choir. Birmingham favorite DJ Gap Toof is also the official DJ of the events, and is set to highlight Birmingham musicians with this spotlight. Here are a few of the live music events we’d encourage people to check out during the games.

Opening Ceremony (Thursday, July 7)

The World Games Opening Ceremony is sure to be an exciting affair, with athletes from over 100 countries coming together to mark the magnificent feats that are about to take place. The music is not slacking in any way, with many “Hope of Alabama” singers and World Games Master of Ceremonies Bootsy Collins joining Gary Owens’ famed band Alabama, Nelly, Shelia E., Tony! Toni! Tone!, and Yolanda Adams. This is sure to be a magnificent night of music and celebration.

World Games Plaza (July 7-17)

The World Games Plaza is providing 10 days of free concerts, dance events, fashion shows, and more to the residents and visitors of Birmingham Three national acts highlight this music marathon, with Big Head Todd and the Monsters (playing July 8th) joining hip-hop legends Lupe Fiasco (July 9th) and Big Boi (July 13th) for what are sure to be incredible moments. Wescam & Classified Alias, Magic City Fashion Week, Walker Burroughs, Luminarts Fire Show, Rebecca Egeland, Halo Wheeler, Gina Tollese, and many more show that Alabama is at the top of the list when it comes to states with the most creative talent. You can view the full schedule here.

Closing Ceremony (July 17)

In addition to bringing together athletes from around the world one last time to celebrate their magnificent achievements, this year's Closing Ceremony has another monumental moment planned: Lionel Ritchie’s first time playing live music in his home state in over 20 years! This ceremony will also feature “Hope of Alabama” musicians including American Idol stars Ruben Studdard, Bo Bice, and Taylor Hicks taking the stage together for the first time ever. Musicians will be joined by dancers and all sorts of other theatrics for a glorious sendoff. 

Cover image from The World Games