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25th Annual Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival Returns for 2021

By Tracie Isaac

Photo provided.

Xperience Live Events and the City of Rochester announced the return of the Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival (RSSMF) to Frontier Field August 27-28, 2021 celebrating 25-years of the event.  

Mayor Lovely Warren was joined by City Council President Loretta C. Scott, Varick Baiyina, President and CEO of Xperience Live Events, Dan Mason, General Manager of the Rochester Red Wings and Frontier Field and William A. Johnson, Jr. 64th Mayor of Rochester, to announce the full two-day lineup of entertainers and activities.

“Last year the pandemic prevented us from celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Rochester Summer Soul Music Fest,” said Warren.  “However, in Rochester, we are resilient and thanks to our citizens who are protecting their circles, getting vaccinated and practicing COVID-10 safety guidelines, our city is emerging and recovering stronger than ever.  We are giving this event new life while honoring the legacies of former Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. and City Council President Loretta C. Scott, co-founders of the original Rochester Music Fest.  We’re bringing back Xperience Live Events as the festival producers, and this year promises to be an even bigger success.  We are all excited to safely come back together to enjoy great music entertainment and fun activities. This year’s Summer Soul Music Fest is going to be an event you won’t want to miss.”

Festivities begin with a Kick Off event at 5 p.m. on Friday night, August 27th with the ROC Summer Soul Tailgate “Tribute To D.J.’s hosted by RUFF RYDERS” (a hip hop collective and record label) honoring local pioneering and current headline D.J.’s in the Frontier Field VIP parking lot. 

Photo provided.

On Saturday, August 28th the day is filled with activities beginning at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the ROC Summer Soul Community Block Party at the Frontier Field VIP parking lot featuring family fun, food and drink vendors, a variety of merchandise vendors, giveaways and presentations by local talent.  The gate opens at 5pm for the evening concert taking place on the main stage and headlined by multi-Grammy Award winning recording artists Boyz II Men.  Additional performances will be announced soon.

“As a native son of Rochester, I’m honored to continue such a proud tradition in my hometown,” said Baiyina.  “Since 1995, the City of Rochester has produced its heritage Rochester Music Festival as a family-friendly concert experience designed to offer authentic grassroots community engagement.  Building on that legacy, 2021 will be even more momentous.  Rebranded as the “Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival” in 2018, our aggressive four-month promotional plan will once again garner regional excitement by continuing media coverage in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, New York City and Toronto, Ontario Canada.”

“From my perspective it is so exciting to be celebrating the 25th Annual Rochester Music Festival.  It’s great to hear the memories of concert attendees who remember when Mary J. Blige, the O’Jays and John Legend were here and the good times that they had,” stated President Scott.  She shared that the assignment that Mayor Johnson gave her to execute the festival and to visit other festivals around the country helped her to shape the vision for Rochester.

For a trip down memory lane, former Mayor William A. Johnson revealed a scrap book that was gifted to him which held the many photographs and fliers of the first ten-years of the Rochester Music Festival under his administration which was previously held in Genesee Valley Park, along with a few stories that rekindled memories of the early days.  He mentioned that giving the assignment to President Scott was a great choice based on her previous years working for the City and the Parks and Recreation Department.  He also recalled that there were very few incidents of violence during those festivals and an atmosphere of family and fun was experienced.  “I am happy to see the growth of the Rochester Music Festival and the continued tradition of bringing the culture and music to our city,” stated Johnson.  

For the third year since the rebranding of the RSSMF, Frontier Field will host the music festival with activities in the VIP parking lot and in the stadium.  Dan Mason, General Manager of Frontier Field maintains an integral role of the Xperience Live Events and the City of Rochester partnership, which brings an exciting and entertaining line up of recording artists and on site activations as part of this 25th annual gathering that celebrates the R&B genre with the chart topping hit makers that music lovers greatly enjoy.  “Thanks to Varick Baiyina I’ve had the opportunity to see Morris Day and The Time and Cameo, groups that I like… We are so excited to have the RSSMF back at our field and we take great pride in producing this event…” stated Mason.

Organizers announced key performers like Sugar Bear & E.U. (Experience Unlimited) whose hit single “Doing Da Butt” was commissioned by Spike Lee for his feature film “School Daze.” The song was recently featured during the 2021 Oscars with Glenn Close showing national viewers that she knew this hit song and how she could do “Da Butt.”  Additionally, a native daughter of Rochester Tweet will be part of the lineup.

Photo provided.

Boyz II Men are among the industry’s elite chart topping artists in the top single and successful group categories with regard to making history by holding the #1 spot on the Billboard music charts, ranking fourth behind Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Mariah Carey.  The group created a new vocal sound by combining the vocal styling of classic-soul and a cappella harmony with the drum-heavy new jack music to create what they coined as “hip hop doo-wop” – this new sound crushed the category of “boy bands” allowing them to set new records and brake their own chart topping position by replacing themselves with their own new singles holding the number one spot for 50 cumulative weeks. Currently performing as a trio, due to original quartet member Michale McCary’s scoliosis illness, who left the group in 2003, the group is also known as B2M and garnered international success since 1991 releasing five hit singles at the onset of their career that remained at the top of the Billboard 100 Hit List making them the biggest boy band of that era – these groups will surely have festival attendees dancing in the aisles to their hits.

Tickets are on sale now. For more information on tickets and vendors visit: