Summer SoulFest – A Guide to this Summer’s Top R&B/Soul Festivals

In addition to the summer’s most highly publicized festivals such as Lollapalooza, Coachella and Glastonbury there are plenty of R&B/Soul festivals to look forward to this summer including the Essence Music Festival, Hampton Jazz Festival and Antigua’s Romantic Rhythms Music Festival. Headlining these festivals are acts such as Raheem DeVaughn, Dru Hill, Ledisi, Keyshia Cole, Jill Scott, Ryan Shaw, Joss Stone, Lalah Hathaway and Stevie Wonder who each have dates lined up through August. So if you’re in the mood for some foot stomping and soul-stirring music then pack up those lawn chairs and head out to some of this summer’s best festivals, here are our top 10 !

1. Antigua & Barbuda Romantic Rhythms Music Festival June 12 – 15th – St Johns, Antigua and Barbuda ( In it’s first year, The Romantic Rhythms Festival boasts an impressive line up of performers including Lionel Richie, Keyshia Cole and Brian McKnight. Kicking off with an exclusive welcome party June 12th, festival organizers are calling the three day event more than just a festival… Romantic Rhythms will offer a unique opportunity to sample the cuisine, heritage, culture and attractions of these “Love Islands.” Below is the line up for the three day festival: Friday, June 13th – Lionel Richie, Brian McKnight, Maxi Priest and El-A-Kru ft. Tizzy Saturday, June 14th – Kenny Rogers, Keyshia Cole, Shaggy, Destra Garcia and Taxik ft. Claudette Peters Sunday, June 15th – Damian Marley, Heather Headley and Musiq Soulchild

2. Rochester International Jazz Festival & 14th Annual Rochester Musicfest June 20 – 22nd – Rochester, New York ( & Rochester, New York will be bustling with artists during the weekend of June 20th, hosting an international jazz festival and the 14th Annual Rochester Musicfest featuring Al Green, Ledisi, The Roots, Kool & The Gang, r&b/soul quartet Black August and more. Even though the International Jazz Festival kicks off June 13th, headling acts including Green close out the festival which also features over 30 bands including local talent and internationally renowned jazz ensembles performing at over 10 venues throughout the city. Friday, June 20th – Al Green, Soulive and Third World Sunday, June 22nd (Rochester Musicfest) – The Roots, Kool & The Gang, Ledisi, Gato Barbieri, and Black August

3. The Soulfood Festival June 14th – September 13th – Nationwide Festival ( Featuring the best in soulfood and music for the soul, the Soulfood festival is slated to hit nine cities by the end of the summer featuring classic R&B/Soul groups and solo acts including Dru Hill, Silk, Troop and Stephanie Mills. Additional dates and performers are to be announced at a later date including a show in Miami, St. Louis and Kansas City. Saturday, June 14th – Louisville, KY – Waterfront Park Atlantic Starr, Troop, SOS Band, Con-Funk-Shun, Dru Hill and Sisqo Saturday, June 21st – Jacksonville, FL – Metropolitan Park The Whispers, Howard Hewitt, Peabo Bryson, Dru Hill and Loose Ends Saturday, July 12th – Nashville, TN – Riverfront Park Cameo, Peabo Bryson, Troop and The SOS Band Saturday, July 19th – Oklahoma City, OK – Zoo Amphitheatre The Whispers, Peabo Bryson, Stephanie Mills and Troop July 20th – Baton Rouge, LA – Mike “Zito” Multi-purpose Ctr. Stephanie Mills, Silk, Peabo Bryson, and Clarence Carter

4. Hampton Jazz Festival ( June 27 – 29th – Hampton, VA – Hampton Coliseum Hampton’s annual Jazz Festival has an impressive line up this year, the three day event which started in the late 60’s will feature performances from Gladys Knight, Jill Scott, Raheem DeVaughn, Joss Stone and more kicking off June 27th. Friday, June 27th: Gladys Knight, Boney James & Jonathan Butler, Raheem DeVaughn, Chrisette Michele, The Now and Then Trio Saturday, June 28th: Jill Scott, Kenny G and Kem Sunday, June 29th: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Joss Stone and Dave Koz and Friends featuring Peabo Bryson

5. Milwaukee Summerfest ( June 26 – July 6th – Milwaukee Stevie Wonder kicks off this year’s Summerfest, spanning 11 days with 11 venues the Milwaukee lives up to be tagged “The World’s Largest Music Festival.” Fantasia, Ryan Shaw and Alicia Keys will join Wonder and other top pop, rock and alternative artists. Featured R&B/Soul Performances: June 26th – Stevie Wonder and Gnarls Barkley June 27th – Fantasia June 29th – Ryan Shaw June 30th – Sean Kingston and Bootsy Collins July 1st – Alicia Keys w/ Stephen Marley July 4th – The Roots July 6th – Earth, Wind & Fire

6. 12th Annual St. Kitts Music Festival ( June 26 – June 28th – St. Kitts Featuring mainly Caribbean artists including singer Shurwayne Winchester the 12th Annual St. Kitts Music Festival kicks off June 26th at Warner Park. R&B singers Mario and John Legend headline the Saturday show which also features Ja Rule. Featured Performances: Thursday, June 26th – Shurwayne Winchester, Shadow, Kassav and more. Friday, June 27th – Billy Ocean, The Kasanova Band and more. Saturday, June 28th – John Legend, Ja Rule, Mario, Tah Mac and more.

7. Bank of America Sounds of R&B Series ( June 27 – July 25th – Philadelphia, PA Noted for his “irresistible blend of soul, funk, R&B, and pop, Kevin Michael kicks off the Bank of America sponsored Sounds of R&B Series June 27th. R&B artists including Lalah Hathaway and Fertile Ground will perform on select Friday’s for free through July 25th. Penn’s Landing Corporation Program Director Keeya Branson-Davis says, “This much-anticipated series is an opportunity for audiences to hear and see some of the best performers in R&B music today – for free! Each performer in the series was selected for their incredible ability to interpret R&B music in their own unique style. June 27th – Kevin Michael July 11th – Fertile Ground July 18th – Frank McComb July 25th – Lalah Hathaway

8. Essence Music Festival ( July 4 – 6th – New Orleans The highly anticipated Essence Music Festival returns to New Orleans this year with an amazing line up of performances, tributes, and free empowerment seminars. One of the biggest and best R&B/Soul festivals in the nation, the three day event will feature Rihanna, Chris Brown, Patti Labelle, Solange Knowles, Chris Rock, Morris Day and The Time, Mary J. Blige and many more. Friday, July 4th: J. Holiday, Rihanna, Chris Brown and Kanye West Saturday, July 5th: Musiq, LL Cool J, Jill Scott, Patti Labelle featuring a reunion with Labelle members Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, plus Angie Stone, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Irma Thomas, Ruby Amanfu and more. Sunday, July 6th : Morris Day, Keyshia Cole, Chris Rock, Mary J Blige and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

9. Macy’s Music Festival ( July 25 – 26th – Cincinnati, Ohio – Paul Brown Stadium Cincinnati’s Macy’s Music Festival returns this year with a top notch line up of performers including Earth, Wind and Fire, J Holiday and Jill Scott. Slated to kick off July 25th, the two day festival will be held at Paul Brown Stadium. Friday, July 25th – Earth Wind and Fire, Patti Labelle, Keyshia Cole, Raheem DeVaughn, and Chrisette Michele Saturday, July 26th – Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Jill Scott, Kem and J. Holiday

10. Hot 92’s Hot Summer Nights Funkfest ( August 9th – Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre Rounding out the top 10, Hot 92’s Hot Summer Nights Funkfest, part of a three concert series will feature Morris Day, The SOS Band, Zapp and more on August 9th. ** Please note: Line ups are subject to change, please visit the official event website for more information and to purchase tickets.


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