POSTED Wed. Jul 2, 2014

Festivals

The Greatest Essence Performances

For the last two decades, Essence Festival the largest annual gathering of African American musical talent in the U.S., has been a 4th of July weekend tradition in New Orleans. In recent years, the event — known informally as “The Party with a Purpose” — has rebranded itself as more than just a music fest, offering a variety of cultural panel discussions meant to empower and inform black citizens throughout the four day weekend.

Free seminars at the Convention Center, along with a Family Reunion Day at Woldenberg Park to kick the festival off, have created a unique experience that’s about more than running into your favorite celebrity in the French Quarter, or seeing your favorite musician at the Superdome (though of course that’s a big part of it too!).

The re-focusing of Essence Fest worked—attendance records were shatteredl in 2013—and if the buzz over this year’s celebration is any indication, 2014 may raise the bar even higher. From July 3rd-6th, tourists and locals alike will attend the multi-faceted event, and headliners Nas, Prince, Mary J. Blige, and Lionel Richie will no doubt put on incredible performances.

Leading up to this year’s Essence Fest, promoters have invited past attendees to share some of their best concert memories over the last twenty years. So here’s a few of the most memorable performances from recent celebrations. See our picks for this year’s main stage performances here.

Beyoncé – 2009
Though Beyoncé had played Essence Fest with Destiny’s Child and as a solo artist throughout the 2000’s, her 2009 headlining performance put her in a league of her own. Fresh off the late 2008 release of her grammy award winning album I Am… Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé played hit after hit, and also sang a stirring tribute to Michael Jackson (above), who had died just a week before. The stunning performance was a precursor to her infamous “power outage” halftime-show at the Superbowl four years later.

Luther Vandross Tribute – 2003
R&B legend Luther Vandross was a staple at Essence in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, headlining as late as 2002. But in ’03, while Vandross was in the hospital, Patti Labelle, Faith Evans, Ashanti, and Tamia participated in a prolonged and heartfelt tribute to the Never Too Much singer. Two years later, Vandross passed away just before the 2005 festival.

Prince – 2004
Known for his eccentric and often mysterious performances, Prince headlined the tenth anniversary of Essence Fest with a two-plus hours set that included a reunion with Time bandmate Morris Day. Few artists can pull off such varying, collaborative performances like the “Purple Rain” singer. He’s back this year for Essence Fest’s twentieth anniversary with Janelle Monae and superstar producer Nile Rodgers likely to join him at some point on the main stage.

Chaka Khan – 2012
Sometimes the best moments of music festivals come from unexpected artists at unexpected times. In 2012, Khan had the dubious task of following Aretha Franklin on the final night of Essence. Franklin’s set went way over, and Khan didn’t take the stage until well after midnight, but once she did, her performance was electric; she put on one of the greatest sets in the festival’s history. Kahn has also been integral part of the community development elements of the festival in recent years with her connection to Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies.

Mary J. Blige (12 appearances)
There’s too many performances from Mary J. Blige (pictured above, courtesy of facebook) to pick just one. She first appeared at the festival in the late 90’s, and returns once again in 2014. Longtime Essence Fest attendees have watched the Yonkers native grow from a rising, twenty-something star to the queen of hip-hop soul right before their eyes. Her music, and her life-story, inspires women from all over the country every time she takes the stage.

Essence Fest is July 3rd-6th. For more ticket information, click here.

POSTED Nov 1, 2017

Events

Boudin! Bourbon! Beer!

Boudin! Bourbon! Beer!

November 3rd will mark the 7th celebration of annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer Festival, where over 60 of the nation’s best chefs come together for the love of…....
CONTINUE

POSTED Oct 6, 2017

Events

Beign-YAY

Beign-YAY

Almost any identifiably New Orleans menu item has a corresponding festival, but up until recently, one of the city’s most iconic culinary treats was left without its own…....
CONTINUE

Written by ADAM KARLIN
POSTED Sep 18, 2017

Events

Hop-py Trails

Hop-py Trails

Northwestern-based cities like Portland or Seattle have long been meccas for craft beer enthusiasts. But thanks to the work of a burgeoning homebrew community and bars catering to…....
CONTINUE

Written by LB KOVAC
POSTED Dec 13, 2016

Atmosphere

'Burn the Throne' Thrashes on Freret St

'Burn the Throne' Thrashes on Freret St

Believe it or not, one of New Orleans’s and Louisiana’s greatest exports in the last couple decades has been heavy metal music. Tis true! From Acid Bath to…....
CONTINUE

PAGE

    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.

    WWNO

    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.

    WWOZ

    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.

    PRC

    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.

    NOMA

    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.

    X

    Thanks.

    was added to your favorites.

    VIEW YOUR PROFILE

     


    Share On Twitter Share On Facebook