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the AU playlist: Mary J Blige - our top 12 songs from the Queen of R&B

The second annual Soulfest is almost here, hitting Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland with another dream line up for discerning fans of soul, R&B, and hip hop. Last year was dominated by headliners D'Angelo and Maxwell but this year the pioneering women of contemporary R&B are set to steal the spotlight, with headliners Mary J Blige and Lauryn Hill sitting atop a hugely impressive, era-spanning roster. In the lead up, we'll be digging through the crates for our favourite tracks from some of these artists, and who better to start with than Mary J? Get across these 10 tracks to start off your weekend with some delicious soul food.

Soulfest 2015 announces stage times

Soulfest has just announced the stage schedule for its 2015 festival dates in Sydney and Melbourne. This year welcomes the best in soul featuring the one and only Mary J. Blige, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Miguel, De La Soul and many more, for performances on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th of October in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively. The event will also be held in Auckland on the 26th of October.

Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill, and Black Star will headline Soulfest sideshows in Brisbane

While Soulfest as a festival may only be taking place in Sydney and Melbourne this year, the promoters aren't going to be neglecting Brisbane anytime soon. Big names from the impressive line up will be spread across three unmissable nights at three different venues around the city, delivering the chance to see such megastars as Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill, and Mos Def & Talib Kweli as the duo Black Star.

Mark Ronson brings out Mary J Blige, Grandmaster Flash, and George Clinton for "Uptown Funk"

With no Bruno Mars in sight, producer mastermind Mark Ronson worked out a spectacular way to bring his hit "Uptown Funk" to life on stage at this year's Glastonbury. While guests are to be expected, Ronson delivered a surprising - and incredibly fun - triple threat, bringing out first DJing pioneer Grandmaster Flash, then R&B queen Mary J Blige, and finally funk master George Clinton for huge Uptown Funk jam.

the AU playlist: 12 songs we cannot wait to hear at Soulfest 2015

We now know that Soulfest won't be lowering those high standards anytime soon, with them yet again managing to secure one of the year's biggest line ups across hip hop, soul, R&B, and jazz. The one and only Mary J Blige has been announced to headline the festival, which also includes Jhene Aiko, Eric Benet, De La Soul, and Talib Kweli. We at the AU can't wait to see what this collective of legendary and rising performers brings to Australia come October, nor can we wait to see who will be announced on the second line up. But for now, here's 12 songs from the artists on the first line up that we are excited to hear live at Soulfest.

Mary J Blige leads an exciting line up for Soulfest 2015

Last year, the inaugural edition of Soulfest did what many doubted would ever happen; they actually delivered on a BIG promise. That promise was to bring Australia and New Zealand a dream line up that included soul, hip hop, and R&B icons like D'Angelo, Maxwell, and Common. How can they possibly top that this year? Well for starters they can bring inimitable hip hop and R&B Queen Mary J Blige down to headline a line up that is even more diverse and just as exciting as last years.

International artists we would love to see play Soulfest 2015

After bringing the likes of D' Angelo and Maxwell down to Australia (and New Zealand) for the first time - and for the first time, making an Australian (and New Zealand) festival the envy of those around the world - Soulfest is back for its second year to once again show us that the demand for good hip hop, soul, and R&B isn't going anywhere. While we'll always be appreciative to Soulfest simply because they made that dream line-up actually happen, it's hard to deny a few teething issues for the first year around. We're looking towards the second edition though, and with the line up coming soon we thought it'd be good to put together a wish-list of sorts and present you with some international artists we think would be a really good fit for Soulfest.