The Top 5 R&B/Soul Music Festivals in the U.S.

Erykah Badu at Jazz in the Gardens 2015 courtesy (Wikimedia Commons)

Erykah Badu at Jazz in the Gardens 2015 courtesy (Wikimedia Commons)

For decades, R&B and soul music has carried the unofficial moniker of “feel good’ music.  Whether the song is about love, friendship, money, or social injustice, music of this genre makes you feel.  Experiencing this music live is an unparalleled experience.  Across the country, music festivals featuring soul music and R&B continue to grow in demand (and sell out pretty quickly).  Some of the best music festivals can be found in cities popular for their live music performances.  Whether it’s a visit to our nation’s capital, a quick trip to the West coast, or rendezvous with the sunshine of South Florida, you’ll appreciate and enjoy one of the top music festivals in the country celebrating rhythm & blues and soul.

Austin Urban Music Festival, Austin, TX

Austin’s reputation as the best city for live music in the nation is further proved by this 2-day event.  Since 2006, the Austin Urban Music Festival has provided locals and visitors outstanding live R&B and soul music performances, as well as hip-hop and gospel.  To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the festival put on a special show including appearances by Musiq Soulchild, Doug E. Fresh, Lalah Hathaway, and Blackstreet.

ESSENCE Festival, New Orleans, LA

This is arguably the largest urban music festival in the nation.  During the Fourth of July weekend, the streets of New Orleans are filled with eager music lovers anxious to see their favorite artists on stage.  If there’s one thing that ESSENCE Fest is known for, it’s the exciting music performances, especially on the main stage.  Past performers include Mary J. Blige, Prince, Mary Mary, Brandy, and Charlie Wilson.  This year’s festival was especially memorable, featuring a host of legends and icons in the making, including Trey Songz, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Missy Elliot, Usher, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.

Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival, Miami Gardens, FL

Miami is well known for its great weather, great culture, and great music.  Held at Sun Life Stadium (home of the Miami Dolphins), Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival treats locals and visitors from around the country to a star-studded list of incredible music performances in soul, R&B, and smooth Jazz.  Commemorating its 10th anniversary in the city of Miami Gardens, fans were treated to performances by Jeffery Osbourne, Maxwell, Toni Braxton, Erykah Badu, and R. Kelly.  Artists who slayed the stage in previous years include The Isley Brothers, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, and Lauryn Hill.

Capital Jazz Fest, Washington, D.C.

Every August, the air in and around Washington D.C. is filled with mesmerizing melodies as the Capital Jazz Fest kicks off.  Not only does this festival provide more than two dozen live music performances, you’ll recognize everyone on the list.  This music event highlights the uniqueness of soul music and classic R&B, and celebrated it with performances by Morris Day and The Time, India.Arie, Patti Austin, Eric Benet, and Johnny Gill.

Long Beach Jazz Festival, Long Beach, CA

Located at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach, the Long Beach Jazz Festival fuses the sunny skies, a picturesque outdoor scene, and the amazing sounds of live music, making for an unforgettable experience.  This year’s lineup featured an impressive mix of classic R&B, modern soul, and contemporary jazz.  Performances were provided by Stephanie Mills, Chrisette Michele, Brian Culbertson, Babyface, Gerald Albright, and Jackiem Joyner.

These music festivals not only offer a platform for the best in the genre to entertain loyal fans and admirers, they also prove once again that R&B and soul music are timeless treasures.

— Shawanda James

Shawanda is a freelance writer and author in her native Miami, Florida.  In addition to, she’s written for CBS, MapQuest, Solo Parent Magazine, Movoto Real Estate, and Boating Times Magazine.  Personally, she’s a wife, a mom of two boys and two girls.  She’s a bona fide travel geek, music lover, and book worm.  Check out some of Shawanda’s other published articles on her website.

One Comment

  1. D'vina says:

    Check out unsigned artist D’vina…

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