Summertime and all I want to do is enjoy the season in my favorite way – by going to music festivals all season long! If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I love a live concert experience. From world music and soul, rock or jazz, hip hop and R&B – I am there for any and all of it, especially in a fun festival setting. So when my friends at My Black is Beautiful invited me to come along with them to the Cincinnati Music Festival, I was TOO excited to go!
I had never been to Cincinnati before, and have always heard good things about The Queen City. I love a city with history, great food and its own unique culture, and the whole region measures up. We stayed across the bridge at the Hotel Covington, in Covington, Kentucky. On the first day, we had a chance to explore the city a bit and walked across the bridge to Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Music Festival took place at the Paul Brown Stadium but the whole surrounding area is super lit and lots of fun, packed with local vendors selling all kinds of handmade items. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a first timer, and you already know if you’re a regular!
On our first night at CMF, I got to check out the expansive PG beauty lounge, where attendees could check out the latest goodies by Olay and Pantene (love that gold series)! In the beauty lounge, each brand was featured in individual booths so everyone could get close up and personal, touch and try the brands with the guidance of on-hand beauty experts. Super chic outdoors space.
After the tour, it was time to Party With a Purpose! The Cincinnati Music Festival kicked off with a super fun celebration in the lounge area of the Paul Brown Theater, featuring select booths and a fashion show by local designers, plus live performances by Rob Base (he came to get down) and Doug E. Fresh, who seems to be aging backwards. Doug E. has to be on that Olay Regenerist for real! He has amazing energy and kept the crowd hyped all weekend long. The Party With a Purpose was so much fun, my husband and I met some great people. Cincinnati folks are warm, inviting and unpretentious.
On that Friday, I spent the day discovering amazing facts about PG brands at their facilities – more to come on that in an upcoming post. After the educational experience it was time to officially turn up at night 1 of the Cincinnati Music Festival! The set up is perfect and so was the weather – while the concerts went on the sun set beautifully behind the stage. That first night was truly a tribute to the 90’s. Let me break it all the way down!
The route into the concert venue was PACKED. Cincinnati truly turns out for this annually anticipated festival! And it turns out, not just residents of Kentucky and Ohio. I heard so many shout-outs and so much response for St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit in the house – this truly is an event people travel for. This year an estimated 91,000 attended CMF weekend!
Like I said, night number 1 was like the best 90’s mixtape. Like the soundtrack of my youth! We got there in time for SWV, and they were incredible. These sistas still have incredible voices! They hit every note in Weak, Anything and I’m So Into You to perfection. I love their music so much, it was great to see them still deliver at this kind of level.
I was a huge En Vogue fan back in the day – I wanted to be a member myself! Especially in the heyday of Funky Divas. The current version of En Vogue only includes 2 former members — Maxine and Cindy. The harmonies remain as tight as ever and the ladies look great!
If you grew up a New Edition fan (I’m assuming you did, like myself), then you know those guys are true professionals who have been touring, singing and dancing for screaming audiences since they were kids. So you know BBD knows what the crowd wants and they come out to put on a polished, high energy show. Poison remains an absolute anthem, folks were going nuts!
Kem is excellent live and he demonstrated true professionalism. His set was plagued by sound issues during the first two songs, but he rallied to deliver a strong set. The audience was feeling it and the energy was great.
Mary J Blige is such a veteran and such a pro. And she has SO many hits to serve the people! She went all the way back in her catalog and gave me so many of the songs that bring back memories. My Life, Be Happy, Reminisce, You Remind Me…I could go on and on. She was feeling it and the crowd loves Mary!
On Saturday, I headed to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for a special Black in America panel discussion, led by Luvvie.
I really want to give recognition to PG for celebrating our community and telling our stories with sincerity and love. The panel began with a screening of The Talk – click here if you haven’t seen it yet – and continued to address important topics that affect us all. Education. The justice system. Making change in our communities and government. I left the panel truly inspired by the stories shared.
We had a turnout of about 150 and there was so much power and honesty in the room. Then I quickly headed back over the bridge to Covington to get changed for the final night of CMF. The PG Beauty Lounge was PACKED!
We arrived in time for Con Funk Shun and they are dynamic live performers, so the crowd was already moving and grooving.
Next up were Anthony Hamilton and the Hamiltones, and they were absolutely incredible!
They delivered classics and then did mashups of their songs with classic hits – like mixing Regulate with Coming From Where I’m From.
They’re amazing, and now that I know, I’ll see them live whenever possible. And then I got to meet The Hamiltones and they were so cool and down to earth and welcoming. I love following them on Instagram, so it was a treat to connect in person!
Next up, Fantasia.
Who I have been obsessed with since American Idol, but for some reason I had never seen perform before CMF. Y’all. Don’t be late like me. Fantasia is incredible live. INCREDIBLE.
And her backup singers are everything! Tasia took us on a journey from her top hits like Without Me, Free Yourself and When I See You, to covers of Strange Fruit and Proud Mary, to soul stirring gospel. And THEN she performed Total Praise and I felt tears welling in my eyes. Fantasia is the truth. I didn’t know and now I know and I won’t ever forget.
And then, the grand finale and a surprise! Usher has been performing since his early teens so he definitely has the juice and knows what the people want. He gave us everything and then some and then a surprise cameo by Lil Jon and then their hits together! Needless to say the turn-up was real and EVERYONE was singing along. So so so much fun!
If you’ve never been to the Cincinnati Music Festival and you’re looking for a truly enjoyable summer concert experience to attend with your friends and loved ones, you should totally go! I went with my husband, and we saw lots of couples, people brought their parents, aunts and cousins – one night there looked like a whole family reunion in matching tees. CMF is a good time. Thanks to PG for sponsoring the event and thanks for MBIB for bringing me along.
This post is sponsored by MBIB but the opinions and experiences are all mine!