Soul Survivors

After a five-year absence, the Stone Soul Music Festival gets a reboot.

The Stone Soul Music and Food Festival is looking to get its groove back.

Halted by the pandemic and dormant for five years, the Radio One Richmond-sponsored urban music event returns on June 22 with a lineup that includes veteran rappers Juvenile and Trina, R&B chanteuse and reality show veteran Tamar Braxton, legendary go-go outfit Backyard Band, and new gospel phenom Kim Burrell.

Like the Stone Soul festivals of old, this year’s return installment at Brown’s Island highlights a mixture of artists and sounds found on the company’s radio stations. “It’s meant to represent Richmond,” says Mathew Myers, the operations manager of Radio One Richmond. “It’s always been a multi-formatted show so we want to feature gospel, R&B, hip-hop … something that all of our listeners can look forward to.”

The crowd at the 2018 Stone Soul Music Fest in Richmond. Photos courtesy of the organizers.

Owned by parent company Urban One, Radio One operates 58 radio stations in 13 U.S. markets. This includes four stations in Richmond: Kiss 99.3/105.7FM (R&B and soul), The Box 99.5/102.7 (classic hip-hop), Praise 104.7 (gospel) and iPower 92.1/104.1 (hip-hop and R&B)

Myers put together this year’s two-stage lineup, and he and his Radio One crew found that, in five years, the festival landscape had changed. “The more festivals you have, the harder it gets to book artists. There is a lot of competition now. We have to be mindful of the other festivals. It matters when you are competing to bring in an act with a festival with a much larger budget.”

Stone Soul has presented a host of popular urban music acts over the years: George Clinton, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Lil Kim, Boys II Men and Ne-Yo, among many others. The previous 2019 installment, held at the Richmond Raceway, included Gucci Mane, Robin Thicke and Rev. Shirley Caesar.

Myers is excited by this year’s appearance by the Backyard Band. “This being Virginia, near the D.C. area, a lot of people love go-go music, and this is one of the great go-go bands.” In addition to veteran Richmond party group, the Legacy Band, the festival will also feature up-and-coming local talent, culled from Radio One auditions. “We ran a contest called 804 Sessions where we asked local performers from this area to upload their music to our website for a chance to perform on the Stone Soul stage, so we are going to have at least five of those up-and-coming performers. Who knows? They could be the next thing to blow up from our area.”

Co-produced for the first time by the Broadberry Entertainment Group, this year’s Stone Soul will also showcase uptempo party tunes from popular Radio One spinners like DJ Lonnie B (who just celebrated 25 years on POWER 92), Aliyah the DJ (Lonnie’s daughter), DJ Dollaz, DJ Sir RJ, DJ J Dream, DJ Drake, and DJ Flava.

Some food options from the 2018 Stone Soul event at Richmond International Raceway.

“Ever since the Richmond Coliseum went away, we haven’t had major acts coming through, so the listeners missed this,” says Anissa Turner-Randolph, Radio One Richmond’s marketing director. “When it first came around, it was one of the first festivals in this area. When Stone Soul started, there was no Something in the Water or any of the others.”

Turner-Randolph adds that, as before, Stone Soul will feature more than the music. In addition to more than a dozen food trucks, there will be representatives from more than 20 community organizations on site, as well as artisans. “And we’re back on Brown’s Island, where we started.”

Myers says that concertgoers should be ready to have fun, and to help Radio One Richmond reboot the festival. “This is something that we can continue to grow from years to come. We hope that Central Virginia will support it and we’ll do it even bigger next year.”

The Stone Soul Music and Food Festival at Brown’s Island on Saturday, June 22. $65. 2-9 p.m. For more information, go to https://thebroadberry.com/event/stone-soul-music-food-festival-featuring-juvenile/browns-island/richmond-virginia/

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