Just like any other music genre, soul has its group of truly devoted fans. These are the people who know each and every up-and-coming artist, own a bunch of t-shirts and souvenirs related to their favorite soul musician, put active effort into seeing not very well known performers and spend most of their Fridays at a place that has soul music dominating in the background. However, not everyone is willing to invst this much effort into one single music style; for those who simply admire the sound of soul music and wish to see quite a few live musicians in one and the same place, music festivals are the perfect way to do so. Keeping in mind that soul music originated in the 1950s and 1960s in the US, organically most of the best soul music festivals cluster exactly there. Let’s explore some of them.
Essence Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana, US
One of the most remarkable urban music festivals. Truly. Also known as “the party with a purpose”, this music festival is rooted in celebrating African-American women as it was first held as a single standing event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine in 1995. Every year since then the festival has New Orleans as its home, with an exception of 2006, when Hurricane Katrina hit the area and the festival had to be moved to Houston, Texas. The talents who perform there leave the audience in awe of their talent and skill. In the past, famous names such as Brandy, Xscape, Diana Ross, Mary Mary, Solange, Mary J. Blige, and John Legend have performed in the festival, giving it an even more solid ground to call itself one of the best soul music festivals out there.
Austin Urban Music Festival, Austin, Texas, US
Austin Urban Music Festival does not date back to the 20th century. Created in 2005, it was a response to African American Quality of Life Initiative’s efforts to nurture the spirit of soul, R&B and jazz in Austin. It kicked off in 2006 and holds the title of the first and only R&B festival in Austin. In every line up one can discover and listen to local, regional and national artists and every performer brings their talent and artistic expression to impress the audience. Over the years the festival had the honours of hosting names such as Blackstreet, LeToya Luckett, Lalah Hathaway, The Whispers, which helped Austin Urban Music Festival establish a strong standing in the soul-lover community.
Annual Soul Beach Music Festival, Aruba
Ever thought about combing your love for beach with your love for soul music? Annual Soul Beach Music Festival makes it possible. Its non-traditional setting – an island of Aruba – a carefully selected line up and crowds that know why they are here – all of those come together to produce and intimate, powerful and eventually unforgettable soul music experience. It has featured Usher, Mary J Blige, Cedrick The Entertainer, The Roots among others, which makes it attractive not only because of the unique location but also a solid line up.