The Summer Spirit Festival finally returned home and brought with it summer heat. This year’s lineup included Anthony Hamilton, Method Man & RedMan, Marsha Ambrosius, Junkyard Band, J. Brown and of course the headliner Erykah Badu. For the past 15 years, CD Enterprises, Inc. has been bringing one of the premier events that’s geared to the new age soul music that helped define a generation. On August 8, 2022, Merriweather Post Pavilion on Columbia Maryland was packed with 1000s of attendees. The weather was blazing but that didn’t stop the crowd from coming out to support, since they have been away from these familiar grounds for the past two years due to COVID-19. I’ve been hearing for years how amazing this festival is, so I drove two hours just to see for myself. I’m so glad that I did!
As I arrived the lines were extremely long, but I made it through the security gate just in time to catch the opening act. John Brown, otherwise known by his stage name J. Brown was the opener of the day. I wasn’t familiar with him going into the show, but he definitely left a lasting impression and gained a new fan, as his voice and performance did not disappoint.
Following J. Browns performance we had a surprise guest to grace the stage. Ayanna Gregory, daughter of Dick Gregory came and spoke to the crowd. She even gave us a show. She has an amazing voice too.
After she left the stage, DJ Dirty Rico kept the party going, as only the official noise maker could. While fans waited, the production crew and bands began to setup for the next performance.
The first lady of the evening to perform was Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Marsha Ambrosius. What can we say about Marsh? There’s actually too much to say so we’ll keep it short. She delivers every time that she hits the stage, and her set at SSF was no different. Celebrating her birthday with the crowd, she was certainly on a high that could be felt as far back as the outer regions of the lawn seats. Performing her signature songs “Far Away” and “Late Nights, Early Mornings,” her sultry voice just hits you in the gut, and she most definitely hit every high note. It was better than listening to the album.
To switch it up a bit, one of the best bands came on stage to give you a bit of that crank! If you ever are in the DMV, you can not say you haven’t heard about Go-Go music. For those who don’t know, Go-Go is a genre of music that adapts from funk. One of the legends of the genre, Junkyard Band performed and were the only local artists on the bill. The band’s show was a major trip down memory lane because it’s an important element of the city and DC natives definitely appreciated the ode to our city. This music definitely puts people in a good mood and had the crowd up dancing the whole time.
In the area, JYB is a hard act to follow, but the next two performers were the perfect follow up because they definitely know how to rock a crowd. Method Man and Redman from the WuTang Clan was set to blaze the stage next. They came to do exactly what I expected them too. With a set so fluid, anyone looking to have a great performance should study them because it is how it should be done. There was never a dull moment between the onstage banter, crowd participation and the music itself. They performed their individual hits and some of Wu-Tang’s classics like “C.R.E.A.M,” but the minute that they dropped “Da Rockwilder,” it was over!
After all that energy was burnt, I’m glad they decided to slow it down a bit. The next performance was by a SSF favorite, R&B Soul artist Anthony Hamilton. He filled the air with his unique voice that was just right to calm you on any summer night and the crowd loved it. His talented background singers combined well-loved selections like “Best of Me,” “Comin’ From Where I’m From’” and “Best of Me”.
After a long summer day, the time had finally come for the main headliner hit the stage. Badulla Oblongata aka Erykah Badu had finally rolled off of the mothership and was getting ready to shut it down in only the fashion that she knows how, but before she came out the crew had to setup and make sure everything was perfect. She eventually stomped out on stage to stop and stare at the crowd, her eyes piercing into their souls. Officially kicking off her set with the song “Hello“, we were now being transported into the world of Badubotron.
She went through a medley of classics that included “On and On,” “Love Of My Life,” “No Love,” and “Other Side Of The Game,” but my favorite was the closer “Tyrone,” which will forever and a day be a ladies anthem, as it was clear to see some women singing it directly to the men that they brought with them to the concert. Also during that song, she took a minute to thank the “lone white man” in the audience, and then invited him on stage.
This concert was definitely a show to remember, one that I hope to attend every year. If you ever get the chance, mark this down in your calendar.
Check out the a photos provided by Chelsea Smith-Ruffin.