The inaugural Honeyland Festival in Sugarland, Texas, was a groundbreaking celebration of Black culture that transcended the realms of music and community. Set against the backdrop of Crown Festival Park, the festival held a profound significance as it emerged near the very fields where the African American ancestors of its creators once toiled. Now transformed into a vibrant festival, it stands as a testament to resilience, progress, and the richness of Black creativity.
Curated as an event of Black Excellence, Honeyland Festival delivered on every front, seamlessly blending music, drinks, food, and a strong sense of community. Recognizing a void in the cultural landscape, the festival responded to the call that Houston, particularly Sugarland, needed a platform to celebrate its diverse and influential cultural heritage.
Despite the uncertain weather forecast of rain and cold, the festival exceeded all expectations over its two-day duration. The lineup, featuring headlining artists Miguel and Mary J. Blige, showcased a diverse range of talents, from local legends to international sensations.
The music journey began with the highly acclaimed DJ Jae Murphy, whose international influences set the perfect tone for the festival, creating a positive atmosphere from the outset. Houston’s own Dende seamlessly blended rap and singing, showcasing not only musical versatility but also his skills as a producer and instrumentalist. The crowd-favorite “Flowers” was a testament to his wide-ranging talent.
Inayah, another Houstonian and vocal powerhouse, graced the stage with infectious energy, showcasing her genuine journey from once creating jingles to becoming a featured artist at a festival. Spinall, the Afrobeat maestro from Lagos, created an irresistible vibe, representing Nigeria and moving the crowd with his expertly curated set.
Chloe, with her empowering performance, demonstrated confidence and artistry, leaving the audience in awe with hits like “Have Mercy” and “Worried”. Tobe Nwigwe, a Houston icon representing the SWAT (Southwest Alief Texas), delivered a high-energy performance accompanied by his wife, Fat Nwigwe, and kids. His overall production, originality, and mint-green aesthetic left the audience in complete awe, with “Fye Fye” becoming an instant favorite.
Summer Walker, adorned in rhinestones, graced the stage with undeniable vocal ability, surprising the audience with the appearance of Houston legend LeToya Luckett. This showcased the festival’s commitment to honoring and bridging generations of musical talent.
The night reached its crescendo with the headliner, Miguel, who mesmerized the audience with his suave demeanor and enchanting melodies. The seamless blend of timeless hits like “Adorn,” “Simple Things,” “Girl with the Tattoo,” and “Sure Thing” created an unforgettable experience that closed the festival on a high note.
As day two dawned with Houston greats such Tay Powers and Lenora taking the stage, the rain started during Coco Jones’ performance but failed to dampen the spirits of the dedicated audience. Coco Jones, a multi-talented artist, showcased her vocal range and undeniable stage presence, promising a lasting career in the music industry.
The festival continued to impress with Lucky Daye’s passionate performance, Nigerian singer Tems’ captivating set, and the Houston Allstars’ Performance featuring rap legends like Scarface, Lil Keke, Z-Ro, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and a surprise appearance by Bun B.
The grand finale belonged to the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige, who braved the rain to deliver a legendary performance. The soaked crowd, covered in ponchos, chanted “Go Mary” in unison, proving the enduring influence and adoration for Mary. Her set, featuring classics like “I’m Goin’ Down,” “Real Love,” and newer hits like “Good Morning Gorgeous,” provided a fitting end to a spectacular weekend.
Despite the rain, Honeyland Festival emerged as a testament to the cultural impact of Houston, showcasing the city’s influence on pop culture and leaving attendees hopeful for its return next year. This inaugural event was undeniably a triumph, emphasizing the power of music to unite communities and celebrate diversity in a spirit of Black excellence.