The Essence Music Festival took place in New Orleans over the weekend. Bringing the coolest mix of the hottest and renowned music veterans such as Diana Ross, Mary J Blige and Chance the Rapper.
The three-day event also gathered an A-list of speakers including Halle Berry, Ava Duvernay, Congress Maxine Waters and more.
This year’s fest is all about empowerement
The annual event landed in New Orleans to celebrate African-American culture and music in the United States.
The Essence Festival is held per tradition on the July 4th weekend on the anniversary of Essence magazine. It features artists simultaneously performing on a main stage as well as four standing-room-only super lounge stages.
Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, and Chance the Rapper were set to headline the three nights.Both Ross and Chance performing at the festival for the very first time this year.
The 2017 Essence Festival lineup also included John Legend, Chaka Khan, Teyana Taylor, Lalah Hathaway, Solange and Ro James
‘Strength of a Woman’
Friday marked the first night of the three-day event took off with Yuna, Gallant and Doug E. Fresh performed in the SuperLounges upstairs, while India.Arie, John Legend, Rhonda Ross and her mom Diana Ross held down the main stage.
Saturday night at the Festival in New Orleans was especially significant. Mary J. Blige, one of the event’s most frequent performers, had been given full authority on the curation of an all-female list of artists for the evening — not only at the main stage, but all over the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome, including all four SuperLounges upstairs.
The theme of the night was ‘Strength of a Woman,’ inspired by Blige’s most recent album, which many are calling her best body of work in years.She was sure to include all genres, as well: Jhene Aiko for the younger crowd that appreciates an airy R&B tune, Remy Ma for those who just want to hear a few clever bars.
“This year’s festival lineup puts women at the forefront of an incredible weekend of entertainment featuring more than 40 performers,” said Essence president Michelle Ebanks in a release announcing the initial slate.
She added Teyana Taylor for those who like their R&B on the “poppy” side, Monica and Jazmine Sullivan for that ‘90s R&B vibe and Lalah Hathaway for a soulful, hearty layer.
Powerful words and ideas
The Essence Empowerment Experience also started on Thursday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The free event served as a platform for passion and purpose with prominent social media activists, community organizers, and more, addressing crowds with powerful messages.
“This year’s Essence Festival will be the largest gathering of African Americans following the presidential election, as activists and policymakers come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our communities across America,” Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca said in a statement.
The series started on Thursday, with Ava Duvernay, Rev. Al Sharpton, Iyanla Vanzant, Congress Maxine Waters, and Phaedra Parks topping the list of the influencers who took the stage.
In a day headlined by Mary J. Blige and Niecy Nash’s ‘Strength of a Woman Panel’, Essence Festival fans got to hear from multi-talented Phaedra Parks and actress Halle Berry as well.
Tamron Hall moderated the day’s final panel after a day full of talks from empowering women. Together, they talked the crowd through how to best bring black women in their community to greatness, despite fear of failure.
“As a people we always have to support diverse personalities, diverse stories in our communities,” Pinkett Smith said. “If you’re not buying it doesn’t get made.”
Berry addressed the crowd early in the day. Saying she took on the challenge of producing films, as well as acting in them, to advance the roles women play in movies. Her latest film, New Orleans-shot “Kidnap”, features her as a mother who saves the day.
“As long as we sit and wait for others to do it I don’t think we’re going to ever be happy with the way we are depicted,” Berry said.
Phaedra Parks also spoke Friday about her work to change how black women are portrayed in the media. The Real Housewives of Atlanta star said even though the reality TV platform challenges her control over her own image, she stays motivated.
“I always think that the size of your problem is indicative of the magnitude of your destiny,” Parks said.
Source: Madame Noire