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From Jazmine Sullivan to GloRilla: The best acts of the Beale Street Music Festival

This year’s Beale Street Music Festival was a three-day, music-filled paradise.

The festival, one of the most highly anticipated music events in the city, also celebrated a major milestone by returning to the banks of the mighty Mississippi for the first time since 2019.

Held at the newly renovated Tom Lee Park May 5-7, the festival was packed with some of the biggest names in music, from Jazmine Sullivan to GloRilla. 

It was an incredible display of talent that kept the crowds on their feet throughout the weekend.

The BSMF venue — the newly renovated Tom Lee Park — also was a cause for celebration. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Fans returned to the river to see nearly four dozen artists, including Earth Wind & Fire, The Roots, Dru Hill, Tyke T, Ziggy Marley, Finesse2tymes, Big Boogie, Cameo, The Bar-Kays, and PJ Morton.

On the first day of the festival, Earth, Wind, & Fire put on a show. The legendary group, with Memphis roots, opened their set with the iconic “Shining Star” and followed up with hits such as “Boogie Wonderland” and “September.” 

Fans couldn’t help but dance along to the band’s funky beats and catchy lyrics. 

They also included a touching tribute to Memphian Maurice White, a founding member of the band, with a performance of “That’s the Way of the World.” 

Earth, Wind & Fire, the iconic band founded by the late Maurice White, who was born in Memphis, put on a crowd-pleasing performance at the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

The iconic band was clearly thrilled to be back on stage in front of a live audience, and the crowd was equally excited to see them. Their set was a mix of classic hits like “Let’s Groove” and some newer tracks, all delivered with energy and flair.

Saturday was a big night for Memphis hip-hop artists.

Memphis-based rapper, Big Boogie delivered his hits, such as “Pop Out” and “P Power,” with a raw, emotional energy that left fans wanting more. 

During his set, Big Boogie paid homage to his hometown Memphis by bringing out local performers to join him on stage. The audience went wild, displaying the vibrant music scene of Memphis.

Finesse2tymes brought his signature Memphis sound to the stage. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Finesse2tymes brought his signature Memphis sound to the stage, complete with heavy bass, catchy hooks, and sharp lyrics. He had the crowd jumping and singing along to hits like “Back End” and “Black Visa.” 

Backed by a 30-foot inflatable gorilla which embodied her fierceness, GloRilla surrounded herself with six dancers. Dripping in jewels and a shiny gold outfit, GloRilla grabbed the crowd out of the gate and roared through bangers like “Internet Trolls.” 

When she paused to monologue about the difficulty of being a woman shut out of the hip-hop boys’ club and ended with “we kicked the door in!” GloRilla brought the heat performing, “Tomorrow” and her viral hit “F.N.F. (Let’s Go).”

GloRilla in full effect. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

The high-energy performance had the crowd jumping and headbanging. During her set she brought out Moneybagg Yo to perform their song “On War U On.” Big Glo was one of the festival’s must-see acts.

The Roots closed out the festival Saturday night. Known for their unique blend of hip-hop, jazz, and soul, they also brought the crowd to their feet.

The band’s set featured some of their biggest hits, including “The Next Movement” and “You Got Me.” Fans rapped along with Black Thought and danced to Questlove’s infectious beats.

On the final night of BSMF, Dru Hill brought their own unique flavors to the festival.

Dru Hill proved the group still has what it takes to captivate an audience. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Dru Hill wowed the crowd with their signature smooth R&B sound and impressive harmonies with songs like “In My Bed” and “How Deep Is Your Love.” The group proved they still have what it takes to captivate an audience with their sultry vocals and effortless stage presence.

Jazmine Sullivan was the highlight of the festival weekend. She closed out the Beale Street Music Festival with a high-energy performance that had the crowd singing until the very end. 

Jazmine Sullivan came out to share her Heaux Tales. The Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter arrived in raucous applause as she went right into “Bust Your Windows,” before segueing into “Put it Down,” “Mascara” to “Girls Like Me,” “Lions, Tigers, & Bears” straight into “Holding You Down (Going In Circles),” which had this writer doing a pretty mean head nod, two step and fierce singing with my hands.

Jazmine Sullivan (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

A few songs later, she transitioned into “On It,” which features her and Ari Lennox. She moved seamlessly through a collection of R&B ballads and uptempo jams, showing off her vocal range and soulful delivery.

The crowd sang along to every word and cheered as Jazmine thanked them for their love and support.

“I hadn’t been feeling well the last few days, but I was determined to make it to Memphis, because I hadn’t performed here in a while,” she said. “There’s always so much love here! Memphis always shows so much love!”

It was a fantastic way to conclude the festival.

Overall, the Beale Street Music Festival celebrated its milestone in style with an impressive lineup of talent. With such a diverse lineup and talented performers, there was something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.

The festival once again proved that Memphis is a city that loves its music, and fans can’t wait to see what next year’s festival has in store.

GALLERY

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