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Laura Aiisha Haykel has been presenting “creative empowerment” workshops aimed primarily at women for the past several years. Recently, she decided to take her own advice. Though she’s been at least tangentially involved in music and the music business for most of her life, Haykel finally decided to grab hold of some creative empowerment herself. The result is her debut recording as a solo artist, the EP “I Am.”

Not surprisingly, the EP is packed with messages of positivity and empowerment, its combination of reggae, world-beat, R&B, soul and dance music offering the properly ebullient accompaniment to Haykel’s sensuous, soulful singing. Coupled with Haykel’s assertively optimistic lyrics, a viscerally uplifting atmosphere ensues.

Haykel released “I Am” last week. You can sample the album through www.lauraaiisha.com now. Haykel will celebrate the EP’s release with a show at 8 p.m. next Thursday in the Ninth Ward at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.). Haykel has assembled an impressive roster of area musicians – among them Jason Pfaff, Michael J. Corey, Zuri Elise Applebaum, Eric Crittenden, Salsa Sarah, Mohamed Diaby and Janice Mitchell – to aid her in the creation of “a lively, juicy, uplifting dance party.”

Tickets are $12 advance, $15 day of show (box office, Rust Belt Books and Terrapin Station).

Music and art

Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) will present its annual all-music ancillary to the Allentown Art Festival starting at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For $2 at the door on each day, music lovers can sample a continuous stream of regional acts on both the front-of-house stage and the rear main stage.

Saturday’s lineup features McCarthyizm, Groove Force, the Observers, Universe Shark, the Fibs, Shakey Stage, the Steam Donkeys, the Jony James Band, Handsome Jack, the Fretdown Stompers, Ronald Raygun and the Folkfaces offering 45-minute sets on the main stage. The front stage will find the Susan Peters Jazz duo, Rick Smith, the Coquette Sisters and Alassane Sarr performing 15-minute sets on a rotating basis between the main-stage acts.

On Sunday, the main stage will find Diane Meldrum, the Corrections, Tony DeRosa & Friends, Randle and the Late Night Scandals, Black Rock Zydeco, Erie Lackawanna Railroad and Dr. Jazz sharing the bill, while Katherine Koch and Anne Phillipone split the front stage duties.

Also on Sunday, between 2 and 6 p.m., a supergroup comprising members of Groove Force and Sonic Garden – known as Sonic Force – will perform Grateful Dead and various other jam-band fare in Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.).

Gaining Latitude

The maiden voyage of the Latitude 43 Music festival at Artpark will find three solid days worth of music filling the outdoor amphitheater stage at the Lewiston venue, all to raise money for the Variety Kids Telethon, Lewiston Fire No. 1 and the New York State parks department. The event, previously known as the Lewiston Pub Fest, will find some 14 bands and artists offering sets divided into the blues, rock and country idioms.

Friday is blues day, and will be headlined by Kelley Hunt, a Kansas City-based soul-blues keyboardist, guitarist and singer. Joe Louis Walker and Maria Aurigema round out the bill, which kicks off at 6 p.m.

Saturday’s rock lineup finds revered tribute band the Machine performing Pink Floyd atop the bill, with Strictly Hip, Clyde, Mikanecho, Whiskey Reverb, Cue the Sun and the Doyle Brothers filling a roster of live bands kicking off at 2 p.m.

Country Sunday welcomes Eric Paslay, Lyndsey Highlander, the Heritage and 90 West sharing the duties, beginning at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for each of the three days, or $15 for a weekend pass. There are also VIP ticket options available, through www.artpark.net. Children under 12 will be admitted free.

email: jmiers@buffnews.com