Boney James, Rachelle Ferrell headline Smooth Music Festival

Holly Robinson Peete (left) and saxophonist Boney James perform at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards in March in Los Angeles. James will play at Bell Auditorium Labor Day weekend.

Augusta’s fourth annual Smooth Music Festival is sure to feature some surprising compositions and sounds, said Boney James, the acclaimed saxophonist who appears at the Bell Auditorium over Labor Day weekend with special guest Rachelle Ferrell.


Audiences can expect R&B vibes throughout James’ jazz, while Ferrell transverses both pop and jazz genres.

“I came up through the R&B bands,” James said from his home in Los Angeles.

His latest record, Contact, released in March, features guest appearances from several R&B vocalists, including: Heather Headley, LeToya Luckett, Mario, and Donell Jones.

“I’m super proud of the record,” said James, a three-time Grammy nominee who last year was named by Billboard Magazine “The No. 3 Top Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Decade.”

Last year, James said, the making of Contact was interrupted when he was in a car wreck while driving home after a show in California. James fractured his jaw in the accident.

He’s now fully recovered, and says, looking back, the wreck turned out to be a good thing, James said.

“The joy of living came over me and I think that’s reflected on the record,” he said.

Next year, James celebrates the 20th anniversary of his debut album, Trust, released in 1992.

James said he’s looking forward to many more good years to come.

“It’s a blank slate. I have no idea what’s next,” he said. “But I want to be one of those guys who keeps at it.”

Like Stevie Wonder, he said.

Wonder is just one of the many musicians, along with Earth, Wind & Fire and saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., that James cites as early influences on his musical career.

Whatever happens, the next 20 years are as likely to be all about the music as the first 20, James said. “I just love making music. It’s still really my favorite thing to do.”


WHAT: Smooth Music Festival featuring Boney James and Rachelle Ferrell

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2; Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Bell Auditorium,
712 Telfair St.

COST: $40 to $60, with group and military discounts available; See or call (706) 294-1000.

LEARN MORE: augusta