Vail - Colorado's only soul music festival returns to Vail today through Sunday for its third year with hopes of becoming the town's newest music tradition.Soul music is an art form that is loved by people all around the world and Rhonda Jackson, Vail Soul Music Festival founder, wanted to bring that love to Colorado."Vail, I believe, is a great place to unveil music that embraces the soul," she said. "Our main focus is on preserving soul music, as well as showcasing independent and emerging artists in the soul category."When choosing who performs at the festival, she said that it is a matter of careful consideration.The festival coordinators wanted the line-up to have a balance between new as well as classic soul music performers.Allen Stone and Kindred The Family Soul are two of the newer soul performers who will play.Stone, who began his career singing worship music at his father's church, has performed on shows like Conan and Jimmy Kimmel Live after once being introduced to great soul music and the talent of singer-songwriters of the 1960s and '70s.Kindred The Family Soul, a married couple duo based in Philadelphia, performs soulful R&B music mixed with hip hop-minded grooves."Soul music is something we have always had an affection for," said Fatin Dantzler, a member of Kindred The Family Soul. "Naturally, we decided we wanted to do music and that was the kind of music that we loved the most so we gravitated towards it."
This year, two of the classic soul performers on the bill are Jeffrey Osborne and Sugarfoot and the Ohio Players.Osborne's solo career has brought him five gold and platinum albums including "Stay With Me Tonight" and "Only Human."The legendary funk band Sugarfoot and the Ohio Players changed R&B forever with double No. 1 hit songs like "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster."Most of the performers grew up around soul music and are hoping to touch people's lives through their songs."We have a lot of fun doing concerts for people," said Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, leader of the Ohio Players. "I have never seen Vail so I'm really looking forward to the show at the outdoor theater."
Although people were hesitant at first to host a soul music festival in Vail, it has blossomed into a great new summer event with the support of locals and visitors alike."I think it is a fantastic addition of diversity to our valley," said Eagle resident Kirsten Texler, who is doing some public relations work for the festival. "I wish we would have had it a lot sooner."Texler attended the concert for the first two years and she plans to go again this year.In order for more people to hear about the event, Jackson and the other festival coordinators have been aggressive on social media and have quite a few media partners helping. Jackson is hoping to see more people at the event this year, she said."We definitely want to make it a tradition," Jackson said. "Vail is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year and we would love to bring (the festival) back so in order to do that, we need the community to support and come out. ... We are just wanting to add another dimension with Colorado's only soul music festival. We are totally, unapologetically committed to soul."Jackson originally felt that bringing music that makes people feel good inside to a type of backdrop like Vail would be explosive in a positive way."We hope that the audience takes away a greater appreciation for the art form," Jackson said. "We hope that the audience is rejuvenated and just begins to look at this as a great summer festival."Mary Kelley Zeleskey is an intern at the Vail Daily and can be reached at 970-777-3120.