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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.

Charlie Wilson announces exclusive Sydney show with Floetry

To supplement their appearances at Soulfest this year, both Charlie Wilson and Floetry will be performing an intimate Sydney sideshow at The Factory Theatre on Thursday 22nd October.

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.

Jhene Aiko to perform intimate Soulfest sideshow in Sydney

For a second year, Soulfest is set to bring down a who's who of the soul, R&B, and hip hop industry to Australia and perhaps one of the most exciting, relatively new artists on the line up is the increasingly popular Jhené Aiko. Having come so far in such a short time, with her 2014 debut album Souled Out still making waves in the industry, it makes sense that demand push for Aiko to have her very own headline sideshow in addition to her appearance as part of Soulfest. Sydney is the lucky city to get this, with the opportunity to see Aiko do her thing at the Metro Theatre the perfect opportunity to see why she has been compared to the late, great Aaliyah in a live environment.

Lauryn Hill and Miguel lead a massive second line up announcement for Soulfest 2015

Second line up announcements for music festivals are traditionally on a somewhat lower scale than the first announcement. Not this one though. Joining the already massive announcement of Mary J Blige as headliner for Soulfest will be none other than Ms Lauryn Hill.

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.

Festival Review: Soulfest - Kings Domain, Melbourne (19.10.14)

After a lukewarm start in Sydney due to atrocious sound issues, I was a bit nervous with my decision to fly down to Melbourne and do it all again. This was a line-up that was quite literally a dream for me and felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so to be underwhelmed twice would not only be soul crushing personally, it would have been indicative of what Australia and New Zealand could expect from the rest of the long-awaited tour. But all those angry tweets and general complaints that arose out of Sydney and the lack of sound checking seemed to benefit Melbourne; this time the crew behind Soulfest were on the ball. This led to a festival that felt like an entirely different, better experience than Sydney, and felt much closer to what the promoters intended the festival to be.

Live Review: Maxwell + Leela James - Enmore Theatre, Sydney (21.10.14)

The structure of the inaugural Soulfest was a bit different than what Australia is used to; the majority of artists on the line up were like a tight-knit collective who have converged and diverged over the years, each contributing massively to what is known as neo-soul - or R&B in general. Two of these names stood out amongst the others, one being the eminent D'Angelo the other being festival headliner Maxwell. While the former showcased his similarities to Prince and Sly Stone at the festival, Maxwell got over simply through his elegant display at delicate neo-soul and that heavenly falsetto he is known for. At this very special, Sydney exclusive sideshow, fans, both dedicated and casual, were treated to the intimacy that this kind of performance not only demands, but needs.

Live Review: Yasiin Bey (AKA Mos Def) - Enmore Theatre, Sydney (20.10.14)

Sydney can be a weary bunch when it comes to artists who have abandoned them before; the last time Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) was supposed to play the Enmore Theatre, he cancelled at the very last minute and left a bitter taste in our mouths. To add to the cynicism, Yasiin missed his scheduled flight the morning of Sydney's Soulfest and disappointed us once again. So third time's a charm, right? With a few sideshows for Soulfest's once-in-a-lifetime line-up sprinkled around Australia, a headline performance from Mos, two days after Sydney's Soulfest, promised a chance for the rapper to make it up to his fans and show that he is actually worth the wait.

Festival Review: Soulfest - Victoria Park, Sydney (18.10.14)

It's hard not to have unrealistic expectations when a dream line-up like this lands. The promoters of Soulfest must have worked been working miracles in order to make something like this to happen. It was something that immediately saw the East Coast of Australia become a point of envy for discerning music lovers around the world. Many of these acts could have been big draw cards in of themselves, but to put them all together seemed too good to be true - and it was treated so until the minute we entered. Sydney was the first stop for this inaugural Soulfest tour, so nerves were high when we stepped into Victoria Park - an odd spot for a major music festival - to get a taste of just how this was going to shape up.

Photo Gallery: Soulfest - Victoria Park, Sydney (18.10.14)

Soulfest came to Sydney over the weekend, with the likes of D'Angelo, Aloe Blacc and Anthony Hamilton bringing some amazing soul and R&B vibes through to Victoria Park. Nathan Atkins brings you this gallery from the event!

the AU playlist: Homecooked Soul Food - 6 Australian artists you need to see at Soulfest

We are now at this point where we no longer have to pinch ourselves when we look at the line up for the inaugural Soulfest. D' Angelo, Maxwell, Common, Mos Def, Angie Stone, Anthony Hamilton, Musiq Soulchild - they're all here, and they're all playing the same stage. We're the envy of hip-hop, R&B, and soul fans the world over right now, but the day isn't - and should not be - just about the big names. To complement the dizzying amount of talent at this festival, the promoters have done well to recruit Australian artists who fit seamlessly with the ethos of Soulfest. Some of these locals are exclusive to just one city only, but some are travelling with the entire festival across all three of the Australian dates. Here are six Australian artists you shouldn't be overlooking when you head along to Soulfest in your city.

D' Angelo announces exclusive Soulfest sideshow in Melbourne with limited capacity

We're only one day away from the hotly anticipated Soulfest kicking off in Sydney, and then this news drops out of nowhere. Co-headliner and neo-soul legend D'Angelo will be performing a special sideshow exclusively in Melbourne. What's more is that the show will be an intimate affair with limited capacity to give lucky ticket holders a chance to really get the feel for his music.