Photos by Dean Budnick

The first three days of Newport’s Folk On event took place from July 23-25, welcoming a slew of guests to the picturesque, seaside town, including surprise appearances by Chaka Khan and Brandi Carlile.

Honoring his own influences, Billy Strings’ Sunday set focused on songs associated with Doc Watson, whereas Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) sat in with her partner Kevin Morby to cover tunes from their collaborative pandemic projects.

Nathaniel Rateliff also embraces the collaborative spirit in his two-part, John Prine encore, welcoming Courtney Marie Andrews to cover “Summer’s End” and Tommy Prine, Margo Price and Tré Burt to sing on “Paradise.”

Later on, Yola’s set was a real highlight of Folk On’s first few days, as the English-born singer welcomed Carlile, Celisse and Natalie Hemby for a number of tunes.

The aforementioned Chaka Khan sit-in arrived during Allison Russell’s inclusive, empowering set which concluded Sunday’s offerings.

During the performance, Russell brought all the black female artists at Newport together on stage: Yola, Sunny Way, Celisse, Yasmin Williams, Joy Oladokun, and more. 

From there, Khan kept the energy high, with a crowd-wide dance party to her hit “Ain’t Nobody” and the classic “I’m Every Woman.”