Anita Baker, 2018 Capital Jazz Festival

Anita Baker, 2018 Capital Jazz Festival; credit Dwight Brown

2018 Capital Jazz Festival

by Dwight Brown, NNPA News Wire Entertainment Critic and Soul Of America

The 26th Annual Capital Jazz Festival beckoned thousands of music lovers to Symphony Woods Park in downtown Columbia, Maryland. The music was wonderful, love was in the air and the precipitation (showers to downpours) thinned the audience as the event evolved, but left the joy of the occasion intact.

The Highlights

• The legendary Earth, Wind & Fire blew the roof off of the place with two-hours of classics: “Boogie Wonderland,” “September” and the dreamy “After the Love Has Gone.”

• Grammy-award winning pianist/vocalist Diana Krall enthralled the audience with a Nat King Cole tribute and the song “L-O-V-E.”

• Keith Sweat, Fantasia and Joss Stone sing in the rain at Symphony Stage.

• Larry Graham & Graham Central Station thanked the audience for their “Wakanda” love and tiptoed down memory lane with Sly and the Family Stone’s very funky songs “Dance to the Music” and “Everyday People.”

• “As You Are”: A Tribute to Phyllis Hyman honored the 1970s & 80s singer with stunning performances by Najee and Regina Belle who breathed new verve into tunes like “Somewhere in My Lifetime.”

• Anita Baker, the diamond act, took the stage launching into “Lady Marmalade,” the Labelle hit. Thousands of fans were in awe as she turned the tempo down a notch and said, “All I got for you is a bunch of love songs.” She soulfully sang “Sweet Love” and “Been So Long.” Bob James accompanied her on grand piano for “My Funny Valentine. Baker dueted with Regina Belle on “You Bring Me Joy,” and each singer pushed the other to higher plains.

Avery Sunshine, 2018 Capital Jazz Fest

Avery Sunshine, 2018 Capital Jazz Fest; credit Dwight Brown

Travel Hints for Next Year:

• Buy tickets for the reserved-seat Pavilion Stage, its roof protects audiences and performers from downpours. Pavilion tickets are also good for the Symphony stage performances, but not vice versa.

• Bring your own food to the event and avoid long, nightmarish concession stand lines. Drive over to Wegmans for high-quality prepared foods. Try the: Penne with Sausage & Vodka Blush Sauce Pasta Bowl, BBQ Seasoned Roasted Chicken or the Moroccan Veggie Stew Veggie Bowl.

• See how locals have fun. Head over to the Fairland Sports and Aquatics Center, a massive athletic facility. Enjoy the pools, indoor tennis courts, gymnastics, basketball courts and beach volleyball and mingle.

• Surprisingly, the quickest, freshest and tastiest breakfast is at the grill at the very unique Whole Foods Market, which has indoor and outdoor seating that overlook Lake Kittamaqundi.

• Book hotels and tickets at least three months in advance; both are known to sell out fast.

Keith Sweat, 2018 Capital Jazz Fest

Keith Sweat, 2018 Capital Jazz Fest; credit Dwight Brown

The music, the shared experiences and good vibe is why folks attend the Capital Jazz Festival. The fest helps people forget their troubles and embrace the good times.

Travel writer and photojournalist Dwight Brown can also be reached at

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