Soul and R&B fans around the world know that Aruba is the place to be on Memorial Day weekend! From the 24th until the 29th of May 2017, thousands of soul music enthusiasts from the United States and the Caribbean joined the Aruban community to enjoy beach- and pool parties, live stand-up comedy, and of course the highly anticipated musical performances and after-parties.
The “One happy island” has hosted the Soul Beach Music Festival, the biggest soul music event in the Caribbean, and voted #1 “Caribbean Summer Festival” by Jetsetter Magazine, for 17 years in a row. With these accolades, this year’s annual Soul Beach Music Festival had a lot to live up to!
Friday: Comedy Night with Kings and Queens
On Friday evening, the Renaissance Festival Plaza was converted to a true outdoor comedy club. The venue quickly filled up with people ready to unwind and have a good laugh after the exhilarating Soul Beach Day Party with DJ E-Clazz at MooMba Beach. Comedy kings Big Sean, Cedric the Entertainer, and comedy queen Gina Yashere brought the crowd to tears of laughter as they told their funny and highly relatable tales. Big Sean playfully poked fun at the festival goers themselves; Gina explained the comical nuances of living in America as a black British immigrant; and Cedric the Entertainer described what it’s like to be ‘young-old’ with today’s hip-hop and R&B climate. When the show ended, the festivities continued inside the Renaissance Convention Center with DJ Frank Ski.
Saturday: From Sand to Soul
Saturday started right with two Soul Beach Day Parties to choose from: one at MooMba Beach with DJ E-Clazz, and one at Surfside Beach with DJ Self. Later that day, it was time for The Saturday Music Concert hosted by Rudy Rush, featuring Faith Evans, Usher, and the Roots.
Grammy award-winning artist Faith Evans energetically performed her new music and treated her longtime fans to some of her classics, as well as some of Biggie Smalls’ hits sung by Lil’ Cease upon which the crown went insane.
King of R&B Usher was joined by the legendary hip-hop crew The Roots. Their performance was a perfect blend of buttery vocals, remarkable instrumentals, great showmanship and true artistry. Ladies went wild when Usher sang his mega hits such as “Confessions part 2”, “You Make me Wanna”, “OMG” and a Caribbean version of “Love in this Club”.
Vanessa from Maryland: “This is my 15th year, so I can almost call myself an Aruban! We normally stay at the Aruba Marriott Surf Club, but this time we stayed at the Palm Aruba Condos, which is really nice.
Aruba.com: Besides Soul Beach, what else do you like about the island?
Vanessa: I love the atmosphere! Of course I love the beaches, and the way the wind the blows. And the people are so friendly, in fact over the years some locals have become my family. I love Aruba! My brother actually got married 4 years ago on the Renaissance Island, a.k.a Flamingo Beach. It was just amazing!
Aruba.com: With how many are you here?
Vanessa: We come down to Aruba with a whole group of friends, from all over, New York, Chicago, California… we have our own Soul Beach Aruba Facebook group even!
Aruba.com: What do you think about this year’s line-up?
Vanessa: This year’s line-up is excellent! The best line up since Jamie Fox! (Soul Beach Aruba 2009).
Ashley from Atlanta: “This is my very first time in Aruba. My best friend is a Soul Beach veteran so we decided to come down for our mutual friend’s birthday; she is a big Usher fan, so we’re hoping he will bring her on stage” she jokingly told Aruba.com.
For those who still had some party in them, there were two Soul Beach Nightclub Block parties to join: one at Sand Bar & Lounge with performances by Jukebox, and one at +297 Restaurant with DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Sunday: From Sunrise City to Nightclub Block Parties
There's nothing quite like an Aruba Beach Party. Credit: Soul Beach Music Festival
DJ E-Clazz once again set the tone for a great day of festivities.The evening host Rudy Rush made sure everyone’s energy was up to welcome Stokley and Mary J. Blige to the stage.
The Grammy nominated R&B vocalist Stokley had the audience singing and swaying along with his smooth high energy performance. His all-white ensemble and heartfelt dance moves had him popping off the stage.
Kendra from Brooklyn who was there with her husband Steve said: “This is our fourth time coming to Soul Beach and so far, this year has been our favorite!”
R&B queen Mary J Blige treated the audience to her soulful voice. Loyal fans in the crowd lifted their arms up to the sky, closed their eyes and sang along, thoroughly enjoying the performance. This was especially evident during Blige’s touching presentation of her classic “Share My World”. Check out a snippet of her performance here.
The local band NBO gave a spectacular soca music performance complete with Aruban carnival dancers that wowed everyone.
DJ Self and Jukebox once again closed the evening with the Sunday Nightclub Block Parties at +297 Restaurant and Sand Bar & Lounge respectively.
While performers had to adjust to the warm Aruban evening weather paired with the heat from the many spotlights shining down on them, this did not deter them from giving their best performances. The crowd seemed to have fully enjoyed their Soul Beach Music Festival Weekend.
When Carla from Boston was asked what her favorite part of Soul Beach was, she responded: “Aruba is the best part of Soul Beach for me, it’s the perfect setting for people to come together and enjoy some good parties. Plus these hamburgers are nice. I love Aruba!”
Memorial Day: Cool down BBQ and Grand Finale Party
The Soul Beach Music Festival started to come to a close on Memorial Day. A Cool Down BBQ was held where everyone could reconnect with the new friends they’d made over ribs. Music was taken care of by DJ Phife who was also present to set the mood for The Grand Finale party hosted later that day.
On Tuesday, the festival officially wrapped with two final parties.