Looking for some hot jazz, hip-hop and soul for a fun-filled summer? Mark your calendars and plan a groovy getaway with your girls or a melody-making date night at one of these seven music festivals across the country, featuring Grammy award winners like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Samara Joy, Missy Elliott, the Isley Brothers and Herbie Hancock.
The Roots Picnic Philadelphia (June 2-4, therootspicnic.com/)
Kick off your summer jam season at the annual Roots Picnic at the Mann Center in Philly’s Fairmount Park. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Ms. Lauryn Hill will headline, along with fellow hip-hop heavyweights like Eve and Busta Rhymes. Meanwhile, R&B and gospel lovers will enjoy sets by Ari Lennox, the Isley Brothers, Usher, Mary Mary and Kindred the Family Soul.
Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival Los Angeles (June 17-18, hollywoodbowl.com/concerts-and-events/hollywood-bowl-jazz-festival)
Hosted by comedian Arsenio Hall, this two-day outdoor fest at the famed Hollywood Bowl promises to be a swinging and funky good time. Rising jazz star Samara Joy, Herbie Hancock, Digable Planets, Leon Bridges, Kamasi Washington, the Soul Rebels and Big Freedia are scheduled to dazzle the Tinseltown crowd.
Essence Festival of CultureNew Orleans (June 29-July 3, essence.com/essencefestival2023/)
Many sisters make an annual hot girl summer pilgrimage to the Essence music festival in New Orleans, which is known as “the party with a purpose.” Like a tasty muffuletta, the festival is overstuffed with panels, food and wine tastings, and, of course, top-notch music performances. This year’s lineup includes iconic performers Megan Thee Stallion, Missy Elliott and Jill Scott. Abbott Elementary’s Janelle James will MC the final concert.
Lake Arbor Jazz Festival Oxon Hill, Maryland, and surrounding areas (July 12-16, lakearborjazz.com/)
The sophisticated Washington metropolitan set loves to flock to this five-day festival to mix and mingle at à la carte events, including an all-white-attire after-party, a tour of local wineries, a pre-festival concert with Najee, and jazz brunches. A highlight is the jazz festival day, headlined by legendary soul-funk band War, with VIP tents and general lawn admission options.
Harlem Festival of Culture New York City (July 28-30, harlemfestivalofculture.com)
Harlem is still the hub of Black culture in New York City, and the Harlem Festival of Culture is inspired by the 1969 music festival that was unearthed in Questlove’s Oscar-winning documentary, Summer of Soul, released in 2021. To help bring the ambitious three-day festival to the masses, Wyclef Jean is cochair for the music advisory board, and Michael Bivins of New Edition is the creative director. The festival will convene on Randall’s Island and at the Apollo Theater, and the schedule will include a bevy of rap artists to honor hip-hop’s 50th anniversary.
Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa Valley, California (July 28-30, bluenotejazzfestival.com/napa/)
Blue Note artist in residence Robert Glasper and comedian Dave Chappelle helm this highly anticipated annual jazz fest in Napa Valley’s beautiful wine country. This summer’s headliners include Mary J. Blige, Nas and Chance the Rapper.
Newport Jazz Festival Newport, Rhode Island (August 4-6, newportjazz.org/)
One of the highlights of the jazz fest season, this year’s talent roster includes Jon Batiste, Thundercat, the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet and a collaboration between Joe Russo's Almost Dead and Kamasi Washington.