Photo Credits: RACHEL WILSON / COURTESY
Boutique R&B and Soul festival features lineup up of predominantly women and people of color
The R&B and Soul festival Sol Blume returned for its second year of an all day music festival in downtown Sacramento. The idea behind the boutique festival was to create and environment where like-minded people could come together and celebrate music.
The festival was founded in 2017 by two pioneers of the music industry, Justin Nordan and Fornati Kumeh. This year Sol Blume welcomed over 6500 attendees in the historic Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento. Sol Blume is known to be a boutique festival that celebrates young and upcoming artists in the R&B, Soul and Hip Hop genres from diverse backgrounds.
This year’s line up was completely comprised of people of color with more women artists than most musics festivals. Justin Nordon, one of the founders of the festival, explained what inspired him and his partner, Fornati Kumeh, to start Sol Blume.
“In 2017, Fornati and I agreed to follow through with an idea we had for a few years about a music festival that focused on R&B, Soul and a little bit of Hip Hop,” Nordan said. “There are tons of Rock, Rap and Pop festivals but there hasn’t really been a lot of chill Soul R&B festivals, and we wanted to fill that gap.”
Nordon went on to explain what the the festival is fundamentally about and how the line up was chosen.
“Sol Blume is a one day Soul R&B music experience with an emphasis on culture, diversity, music, food, art,” Nordon said. “It’s a place where like minded people can come together and listen to a playlist come to life. We like to think that we have more of a chill and organic feel, we love when the music feels really passionate and organic, and that’s how we come up with our line up.”
Upon entering the venue, attendees were greeted with interactive art installations, a multitude of food options, local apparel companies and several “Instagram worthy” spots for festival goers to share their Sol Blume experience. The festival began at 11 a.m. and ran throughout the day until 10 p.m. with performances from a wide variety of artists including Miguel, Jessie Reyez, J.I.D, Masego and more. Throughout the day the performances alternated between two stages that were in close proximity to each other so attendees would be able to experience the entire line up.
“The venue is pretty small and we did that intentionally,” Nordan said. “We wanted [to] embrace the fact that we are a boutique festival and we wanted it to feel like you are in the backyard listening to good music with your close friends. For festivals like Coachella or Outside Lands you have to pick and choose who you want to see, but we wanted everyone to see all the artists so we chose a smaller venue of the festival.”
In addition to the more well known artist[s] within the R&B, Soul and Hip Hip Hop artists, the line up also consisted of many younger talented up and coming artists including Ivy Sole, Dave B, Parisalexa, Tobi Lou and Jess Connelly. Many of these artists shared their journeys within the music industry and where their passion for music comes from while on stage.
Dave B, one of the performers who broke into the music industry in 2015, detailed what he defines as his genre of music and offered some advice to those looking to pursue a career in music industry.
“I think my music is a mic of Hip Hop with a little Jazz and R&B injected into it,” Dave said. “I guess it’s a little bit of everything, and I like to try out new styles and see what works. To kids looking to break into the industry I’d say the most important thing is that you believe in yourself and don’t pay attention to the world around you. Your individuality is what makes you great so focus on that and don’t be afraid to express yourself.”
The artist also commented on his experience as a performer at Sol Blume in regards to the diversity of not only the line up, but the crowd as well.
“The line up this year was FIRE, and it’s not really male dominated which is something that I really f*** with,” Dave said. “When we walked into the festival, I noticed a lot of black women and people of color in general, working and attending the festival, which was really cool to see too. […] I’m a really big fan of all of the artists that are here and it’s really cool to see them preform and the energy coming from the crowd in general is just insane, so it’s been a really great time.”
19-year-old Parisalexa, noted her major influences to be big pop stars such as Britney Spears, Ke$ha, Katy Perry as well as Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire and Hall & Oates as well as many of the performers at Sol Blume. The Pop R&B artist explained how she made her way into the music industry through her love for songwriting.
“I’m really influenced by a lot of these young female artists that are absolutely killing it right now like Kehlani and Tierra Whack,” Parisalexa said. “I would totally be at [Sol Blume] even if I wasn’t performing. This lineup is so great and I am such a fan of all of these artists. They really touched on young artists and people of color and people who in general are real pioneers of the industry.”
Parisalexa’s latest EP, BLOOM, focuses on her journey of self growth and empowerment. The artist also plans to release her debut album by the end of this year.
“My favorite song I’ve released is Dandelion, because it’s really empowering and I love the idea of falling in love with who you are,” Parisalexa said. “I think just seeing the response and how it’s inspired other women is much bigger than I could have ever imagined. Be yourself because you are beautiful and amazing in your own way.”
Philadelphia based Hip Hop artist Ivy Sole credits her major influences to be the Black Lily movement in Philadelphia, Bilial and The Roots as well as gospel music.
“I like when music is really organic, and every artist I’ve collaborated with has been an very organic experience,” Ivy Sole said. “I love to see a woman centric festival and its been an amazing experience to share with these really talented artists, so it’s nice to be surrounded by good company and good music.”
The artists anticipate to drop a mixtape this summer featuring all female artists as well as begin to start touring along the West Coast. Ivy gave her advice to young musicians and music connoisseurs.
“Focus on the music,” Ivy said. “When the music is good a lot of other things fall into place. [And] I hope the music keeps you really good company because that’s what it’s there for.”
Sol Blume will return for its third year next spring, and students can buy their tickets from Armadillo Music in downtown Davis.
Written by: Sneha Ramachandran — firstname.lastname@example.org