With warmer weather comes the opening of Ravinia Festival’s annual summer season, packed with plenty of familiar faces and a myriad of pop acts ready to make their debut at the outdoor venue in Highland Park.
Multi platinum-selling artist and current “American Idol” judge Lionel Richie will make his Ravinia debut during his first of two scheduled June dates; as will breakthrough Australian singer-songwriter Tash Sultana, rapper T.I., country megaband Lady Antebellum, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Nickelback, Emmy Award-winning actress and artist Queen Latifah, pop singer Kesha and eternally unpredictable British crooner Morrissey.
Festival favorites returning this year include Americana staple John Prine, vocalist Josh Groban, bluesman Buddy Guy with Blues Traveler and Shemekia Copeland, Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, the Doobie Brothers, Sarah McLachlan and Sting, among others.
Whether you’re splurging on pavilion seats or packing blankets and a cooler with snacks for a night of music on the lawn, here are some lineup highlights.
Tash Sultana: One of the most exciting new voices in guitar-driven alternative, Australian multi-instrumentalist and looper pedal enthusiast Tash Sultana’s chilled out blend of R&B, reggae and folk is perfect to showcase in a more intimate setting like Ravinia. Pierce Brothers serve as opener. June 1
Lionel Richie: What to expect from an artist with a catalog of hits over five decades in the making? A whole lot of sing-a-longs and not much staying planted in your seat. From pop hits to R&B ballads, Lionel Richie will keep the party going all … well, you know. June 11 and 12
Sugarland: After appearing at Ravinia last year, powerhouse country duo Sugarland returns in support of 2018’s “Bigger.” Show up to hear Jennifer Nettles, whose vocal boom will probably be able to be heard from far beyond the parking lot. June 30
T.I.: Three-time Grammy Award winning rapper T.I. was definitely a surprise among the names hitting the Ravinia stage this summer. Known for hits “Rubber Band Man,” “What You Know,” “Whatever You Like” and “Live Your Life,” the Atlanta native is touring behind is 2018 release “Dime Trap.” July 2
Michael McDonald and Chaka Khan: The joint bill that appeals to moms and dads, aunties and uncles, and millennials! After a stirring performance at Pitchfork Music Festival last year and a new album further cementing her status as a R&B dance diva, Chaka Khan will bring classics old and new to the stage ahead of Michael McDonald, whose blue-eyed soul also defined the sound of a generation. July 6
Maxwell: Neo-soul maestro Maxwell will surely deliver a night of slow jams, love songs and revved-up dance numbers under the stars. July 9
Lady Antebellum: Platinum-selling trio Lady Antebellum come to town fresh off its Las Vegas residency. Who knows what show-stopping fare the Nashville troupe picked up in the City of Lights to blend with their take on arena-sized country. July 10
Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band and the Beach Boys: A true alternative to Lollapalooza happening downtown in Grant Park, the former Beatle brings his All Starr Band back to Ravinia for two nights — along with fellow ‘60s pop masters the Beach Boys. August 3 and 4
Queen Latifah and Common: Its been 30 years since the release of Queen Latifah’s debut album “All Hail the Queen,” which gave us feminist anthem “Ladies First” and featured the likes of rap heavyweights De La Soul, KRS-One and Monie Love. The triple-threat rapper, singer and actress will celebrate her legacy as one of hip-hop’s pioneering women with Chicago native and fellow rapper/actor Common. Aug. 31
Kesha: The singer’s 2017 album “Rainbow” — featuring empowered singles “Praying” and “Woman” — cast her as a force to be reckoned with after legal battles with former producer Dr. Luke and a career viewed as more of a glitter spectacle than pop artistry. Watch her reclaim her time. Sept. 8
Morrissey: Is it too late to start placing bets on whether or not the former-Smiths frontman will cancel? If he doesn’t, expect the melodrama of hits like “How Soon is Now?” “I Wish You Lonely” and “Glamorous Glue.” Sept. 14
For complete details and the season’s full schedule, visit www.ravinia.org.
Filed under: ChicagoNow Entertainment