The world’s largest, most culturally empowering music festival- Essence Festival driven by Essence Magazine drove over 500,000 attendees to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. All to catch a glimpse of their fav celebs like Jussie Smollett, Kandi Burruss, Iyanla Vanzant, India Arie, Deepak Chopra, Steve Harvey, and many more speak on powerful panels covering topics on AIDS, finances, education, fashion, health and love.
Once inside the masses either moved their feet to the McDonalds stage for trendy bags and free samples of the newest mango pineapple smoothie or over to the State Farm stage where LED lights and dancing meet. Over at the Verizon stage you’ll get your hands on a comfy tee while listening to the DJ Battle between the legendary MC Lyte and DJ C. Devone. If fashion is more your thing then Walmart had you covered with style tips from expert Tai Beauchamp. Ford showcased the new and fly 2017 GT roadster equipped with style and technology. My Black is Beautiful created fancy makeovers under the bright lights. Own a Samsung device? Well many powered up at the Samsung stage while getting a paint job (on the nails that is) or designed some earbuds while Coca- Cola kept thousands refreshed with drinks as feet sink into the plush red carpet.
After the daytime happenings the destination is the Mercedes Benz SuperDome. Our favorite stars Charlie Wilson, Kem, Doug E. Fresh, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, Kendrick Lamar, Nico + Vinz, Avery Sunshine, Usher, Erykah Badu, Common, Floetry, Dee-1, Teedra Moses, Eric Roberson created great memories from GRAND performances to a sold out crowd singing along to their top hits!
There were many many highlights and some lowlights (like when Mason Betha aka Mase decided that he didn’t want to take photos in the press room, just rude! I don’t see a comeback in his future!! *rolls eyes*). Now back to the highlights…. my awesome awesome meal from Joey K’s, Design Essentials’ Blogger Martini hosted by Grammy nominated singer Ledisi where I scored the Coconut & Monoi Deep Moisture Masque, Curl refresher and Chef Roble’s Clique Body Butter (smells soooo good). The Nola Crawl Style Suite presented by Dove Hair hosted by Alexis Felder, Jessica Andrews and Christina Brown with tunes by DJ CAC. I caught a few cool pics at the DOVE PHOTO BOOTH while others received dry hair makeovers and manicures. Dove Hair presented a “Love Your Curls” book full of poems and photos of naturalists that I gifted my daughter.
Design Essentials' star studded “Dayhem” party with Terence J as the guest host, actress Wendy Raquel Robinson and reality stars Mushiya, Ben and Jewel Tankard on the scene. I received a luxurious moisture makeover by Design Essentials stylists while jamming to the beats.
India Arie’s melodic voice and soulful spirit whose lyrics breathe life into you during the Essence Empowerment Experience was life changing. Kevin Hart’s hilarious set, Missy Elliot bringing the HEAT with ALL her jams, Mary J. giving us her all, Usher hitting moves and Kendrick Lamar bringing the energy was the best time anyone could ask for!
Oh, the Gospel Tribute to Kim Burrell featuring top charting artists Marvin Sapp, Tye Tribbett, Le’Andria Johnson, Smokie Norful and Yolanda Adams (just to name a few) was full of anointing and moved your spirit! A great way to end the final day at Essence Fest!
My last night in NOLA ended with The 82 Group’s “The After Hours Show” powered by Verizon Wireless with special performances by the impeccable 2x Grammy nominated Luke James (good lawd that man can sing!) Stacy Barthe the voice behind the theme song on BETs hit show Being Mary Jane. Kevin Ross and rap duo TK N Cash (my new turn up crew) was a night to remember and totally unexpected!
With over 80 performing artists and 120 speakers ranging from authors to leaders to celebrities; Essence Festival prevails as one of the most memorable, powerful celebrations in the world. New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu says “Essence gives us the opportunity to address issues that we face.” I agree whole heartedly. It’s a place where African American women can embrace who they are whether it be fashion, music or natural hair.