Summer days filled with cookouts or escapes to the seashore are on the horizon.
But not all the fun has to take place in the backyard, in local parks or on the beach.
The Baltimore metropolitan area is host to concerts featuring some of this year's top talent and yesteryear's music trendsetters. From hip-hop to R&B;, jazz to disco queens, our little slice of Interstate 95 pretty much will have it all.
Here's what's in store:
TODAY --Known for his 1989 Grammy Award-winning song "Don't Worry, Be Happy," Bobby McFerrin will host the World of Voices at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The show features an eclectic mix of acts, including the Grammy-winning South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Sweet Honey in the Rock. The center is at 2700 F St. N.W., Washington. The show starts at 8 p.m. $12-$65. Call 202-467-4600.
JUNE 6-8 --Patti Austin, who won Best Jazz Vocal Album at this year's Grammys for her CD Avant Gershwin, is one of the hosts of the star-studded Capital Jazz Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The roster includes contemporary jazz artist Jonathan Butler; singer Randy Crawford and pianist Joe Sample; '70s love diva Roberta Flack; "romantic pop" star Howard Hewett; jazz and R&B; artist Diane Reeves; Grammy nominee Ledisi, who co-wrote and co-produced the music for The Color Purple; and the pop-jazz fusion group Spyro Gyra. The sensual sounds of singer Bryan McKnight and saxophonist Boney James will kick off the weekend. The venue is at 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Times vary. $36.50-$160. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticket master.com.
JUNE 7 --The 2008 Starscape Festival starts in the afternoon but goes on into the wee hours of the next morning. With a smorgasbord of more than 50 musicians, there's bound to be something you'll like to hear, from the hip-hop and rap of Slick Rick to the work of DJ Roc Raider of the X-ecutioners. The list of performers is still growing. The festival starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. at Fort Armistead Park, 3999 Fort Armistead Road. $49.50-$125. Call 800-594-TIXX or go to starscape festival.com.
JUNE 15 --R&B; and neo-soul superstar Alicia Keys brings her smooth vocals and piano to the 1st Mariner Arena. The Grammy Award-winning singer is on tour promoting her third album, As I Am. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. The arena is at 201 W. Baltimore St. $39.50-$100. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.
Rams Head Tavern presents the oldie-but-goodie stylings of Cyrus Chestnut. The Baltimore native has performed with a veritable who's who of jazz and R&B; stars, including Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Diana Krall and Anita Baker. But the jazz songwriter, pianist and producer is flying solo for his 8:30 p.m. performance. The tavern is at 33 West St., Annapolis. $35. Call 410-268-4545 or go to ramshead tavern.com.
JUNE 18 --One of hip-hop's top producers, the Alchemist, joins the underground rap phenom Dilated Peoples, Harlem hip-hop group 88-Keys and rapper Aceyalone for "Deacon Presents Fresh Rhymes and Videotape" at Rams Head Live. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. The club is at 20 Market Place. $16-$18. Call 410-244-1131 or go to ramshead live.com.
JUNE 21 --No one seems to tire of the old-school jazz and R&B; flavor of Frankie Beverly & Maze. Beverly recently released an anthology of his music from the past 31 years. He will play Pier Six Concert Pavilion, along with Grammy Award-winning R&B; artist and former Broadway star Stephanie Mills. The performance begins at 8 p.m. The pavilion is at 731 Eastern Ave. $29-$82. Go to pier sixpavilion .com.
JUNE 27-29 --The African-American Heritage Festival brings national headliners, such as acclaimed hip-hop artist Common, to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Other acts are still being determined. Each year, the three-day event gets larger, with more things to do and see. A celebration of African-American ancestry, the event this year features interactive arts, history, education, career, health and literacy activities, as well as a 1.5K walk and a 5K run. Times vary. Oriole Park is at 333 W. Camden St. Call 410-235-4427 or go to aahf.net. Donations are welcomed.
JUNE 29 --Grammy-nominated singer Chrisette Michele, who released her debut album, I Am, last year, performs with fellow R&B; artist and Grammy-nominee Raheem DeVaughn of Maryland. His latest CD is Love Behind the Melody. The 7 p.m. show is at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. $30-$45. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticket master.com.
"At Last" you can see the legendary Etta James in person. The three-time Grammy-winner performs with the Roots band at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va. $105. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.
JUNE 30 --New Orleans funk invades Rams Head Tavern in the form of the Neville Brothers. Formed in 1976, the R&B;, soul and jazz group continues to attract a diverse following. The show starts at 7 p.m. The venue is at 33 West St., Annapolis. $75. Call 410-268-4545 or go to ramshead tavern.com.
JULY 6 --Could she be the next Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan or even "Queen of Rock and Roll" Tina Turner? That's what many think of the tiny yet powerful soul singer Leela James. See and hear what all the fuss is about at her 8:30 p.m. performance at Rams Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis. $29.50. Call 410-268-4545 or go to ramsheadtavern.com.
JULY 12 --Saxophonist Art Sherrod Jr.'s star is definitely rising. He has taken his smooth stylings to the Brazilian-American Jazz Festival in Rio de Janeiro and the Beantown Jazz Festival in Boston. Catch one of two performances by Sherrod, at 5 p.m. or 8:30 p.m., at Rams Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis. $25. Call 410-268-4545 or go to ramsheadtavern.com.
JULY 16 --Donna Summer, the "Queen of Disco" has had the fortune of having her success live on long after the end of the '70s. Though she's branched out into R&B;, rock and even gospel, her disco classics have immortalized her in American pop culture. Summer, who was recently nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, performs at 7:30 p.m. at Pier Six Concert Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. $29-$75. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticket master.com.
JULY 19 --A preacher's daughter, Oleta Adams has made quite a worldly splash, garnering much praise in the U.S. and Europe for her gospel, soul and R&B; talents. Catch one of her performances, 6:30 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., at Rams Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis. $39.50. Call 410-268-4545 or go to ramshead tavern.com.
AUG. 3 --Seven-time Grammy-winning soul singer Gladys Knight - minus the legendary Pips - performs at Pier Six Concert Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. Knight's career spans more than four decades and features hits such as "Love Overboard," "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." She'll be joined by the all-male doo wop/jazz ensemble the Dells. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. $26-$85. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.
AUG. 9-10 --Pimlico Race Course will be filled with music and hordes of fans for two days during Virgin Mobile Festival 2008. The event includes acclaimed/controversial performer Kanye West and New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne, among many others. The race course is at 5201 Park Heights Ave. Gates open at 7 p.m. $97.50-$450. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.
AUG. 15 --Grammy winner Anita Baker headlines at Pier Six Concert Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. Baker's breathy alto voice has long drawn comparisons to Sarah Vaughan since her emergence in the mid-'80s. $39-$125. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticket master.com.
AUG. 22 --With smash hits like "Hold On" and "Free Your Mind," female R&B; quartet En Vogue has attained much success, with a Grammy nomination and more than 20 million albums sold. The divas make an appearance at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va., for a 7:30 p.m. concert. $45. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticket master.com.
AUG. 23 --Three-time Grammy-winner for Best Contemporary Blues Album Keb' Mo' performs with the Keb' Mo' Band and teams up with acclaimed Blues guitarist Robert Cray and the Robert Cray Band for the "Bringin' It Back Home Tour" at 7 p.m. at Pier Six Concert Pavilion. $25-$45. Go to piersixpavilion .com.