The 18th annual ESSENCE Music Festival was no doubt the place to be during the Fourth of July weekend to celebrate music, culture and empowerment during the newly-expanded four day event.
Diggy Simmons, OMG Girlz, Roshon Fegan, CoCo Jones, Katlyn Nichol and The Roots of Music kicked off the festivities with Rocsi Diaz hosting the New & Next Youth Concert, the newest installment added to the festival. The group of young tastemakers had us all on our feet and out of breathe from dancing and singing to their energetic performances.
While New & Next kicked off the weekend, stellar performances from seasoned artists like Charlie Wilson, Dru Hill, SWV, Mary J. Blige, Carl Thomas, Eve, The Pointer Sisters, Stephanie Mills, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Kahn among others, are what kept festival-goers coming back to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome each night.
As a prelude to each nights musical performances, consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Verizon Wireless , Wal-mart, My Black is Beautiful, McDonalds, and Ford were among the major sponsors that embraced the Festival’s theme “The Power of Our Voice” by using celebrity and social media influencers to start panel conversations on hot topics that affect our communities and relationships.
The Festival concluded with a once in a lifetime ensemble comprised of Chaka Khan and The R&B Divas who payed tribute to musical legends who passed away over this past year.
We’ve rounded up some of our best moments from the weekend check out the pictures and video below.
Working the stage in leather thigh-high boots, Mary J. Blige tore the ESSENCE Music Festival stage up on Saturday giving us a night we’ll never forget! Mary said the first thing she ate when she arrived in New Orleans was gumbo! Our fav too.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen R&B Divas Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Monifah Carter, KeKe Wyatt and Syleena Johnson perform and they didn’t disappoint as they gave an awesome tribute to all the musical legends we lost over the past year. We’ll be watching their new show on Monday August 20th on TV One.
We were so excited to see MC Lyte, who seems to be getting thinner and thinner,but she candidly talked about her current musical influences, which consisted of Kanye West, and music she creates and gives away for free. We’ll share more details in another post.
Does Aretha ever give a performance that isn’t memorable? We know she gave a great performance but somehow her handing out stuffed animals and her story about a dog stands out the most. Nonetheless, Aretha has maintained longevity and we are glad that ESSENCE awarded her with the Power Award.
Mary Mary looked amazing and sounded amazing and we are elated that their show is coming back for another season! Tina, who looked amazing, set record straight and said she is NOT due any day, her husband wouldn’t have let her perform if that were the case, but is looking forward to delivery soon.
Bridget Kelly is signed to Roc Nation. This was the first we’ve heard of the artist but she’s very well spoken, energetic and based on her explanation on the type of music she intends to make, we may become a fan!
Newcomer Luke James is such a cutie, and was extremely grateful and excited to be performing for a large audience such as ESSENCE Music Festival. He told us he hopes to perform at the BET Awards next year–we can see that happening for him.
New Orleans artists The Stooges Brass Band were super entergetic. If you’ve never heard of the trio, like us, they told us they are the horns, brains and creatives behind some of our favorite brands such as ESPN. We can’t wait to review their music!
If anyone can give a celebrity a fashionable comeback it’s June Ambrose; celebrity stylist, brand ambassador and star of ‘Styled by June’ on VH-1. She wowed in a Marchesa Dress as she spilled the tea and told us she should know of a second season of her show in a couple weeks! We hope it’s a YES!
Eve dropped by the press room looking super tanned as she’s fresh off a performance trip in Dubai and now a newly wed! She told us she was super nervous performing her new songs in the ESSENCE Super Lounge, but was excited that she was embraced!
Stephanie Mills is super tiny but packed a punch with her vocals in the super lounge. She’s still got “it” and we hope she joins a tour soon or we see her back on broadway directing; as she told us she would like to do.
City Gym Boys– the weekends eye candy!
Carl Thomas must have brought the summer rain with him to the Festival this weekend because it rained like crazy, but the most shocking news he told us was his collaboration with Snoop Dog. It’s shocking because he says he’s against perversion…ok.
Check out our favorite musical perfomances:
Photo Credit: Atlanta Tastemaker Magazine
Video Credit: ESSENCE Magazine