Cincinnati Music Festival

Cincinnati Music Festival in late July at Paul Brown Stadium

Cincinnati Music Festival

by Thomas Dorsey, Soul Of America

Cincinnati Music Festival first rocked the mic in 1962. Originally called the Ohio Valley Jazz Festival, the festival has evolved into a spectacular event on Cincinnati’s riverfront. Starting out as an all-jazz concert, it has evolved into a two-day festival featuring great music from stars in R&B, Jazz, Soul and Hip-Hop, including up-&-coming artists. You don’t just hear the music, you feel the positive vibes all over the waterfront and spilling into downtown Cincy.

The festival has been held at various sites through its history. By year 2000, the festival was the largest of its kind in the United States, drawing more than 50,000 people annually from across the country. Finally, it landed at its current home in Paul Brown Stadium on Cincinnati’s riverfront in 2001. Accompanied by a street festival dubbed Festival 513, which is the local area code, Cincinnati Music Festival has many local vendors surrounding the stadium with food and gift kiosks that accent your experience. And if group budget permits, consider renting a roomy suite in the stadium. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the mayor’s suite one year.

In 2005, Macy’s became the festival’s headline sponsor, and continued for 10 years through 2014. 2015 marked the first of many years in partnership with Cincinnati-based global company, Proctor & Gamble. For music lovers, that means Cincinnati Music Festival, organized by QLZ Productions, is on solid ground. You can plan attendance months ahead. P&G also plans special events around the stadium and downtown.

This 7 year sampling of performers at Cincinnati Music Festival has set the high bar for national music festivals:

2016: New Edition, Babyface, Charlie wilson, Fantasia, The Whispers, Leela James, Frankie Beverly & Maze
2015: Maxwell, Jennifer Hudson, The O’Jays, Luke James, Joe, Jill Scott, Kem, Avery Sunshine, Mali Music
2014: Charlie Wilson, Chaka Khan, Robin Thicke, After 7, Chrisette Michelle, New Edition, Keshia Cole, Ne-Yo
2013: R. Kelly, Jill Scott, Charlie Wilson, Boostsy Collions, ATGT, Fantasia, Kem, Morris Day, Leela James
2012: Kem, Charlie Wilson, Ledisi, Eric Benet, Temptations Review, Monica, Jaheim, Midnight Star, The O’Jays
2011: Anthony Hamilton, The Whispers, Charlie Wilson, Zapp Band, El DeBarge, Keshia Cole, Frankie Beverly/Maze
2010: Cameo, Teena Marie, Melanie Fiona, Jaheim, Eryka Badu, Raheem DeVaughn, En Vogue, K’Jon, Charlie Wilson

Anyway you slice it, Cincinnati Music Festival is great value for the dollar to celebrate the best of black music culture and visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, while you’re at it. Place both on your bucket list!



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