POSTED Wed. Jul 1, 2015

Events

The New Orleans & Me Guide to 2015 Essence

Fourth of July in the Crescent City is almost upon us, and for the twenty-first straight year, the holiday coincides with Essence Fest, a music and culture festival that celebrates hip-hop, R&B, African-American culture, and much more. Most events take place either at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome or Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. You’ll notice both venues are indoors, so the festival can be a great way to beat that pesky New Orleans summer heat.

This year’s headliners include Kendrick Lamar, fresh off the spring release of his critically adored sophomore record To Pimp A Butterfly, as well as Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Common, Trombone Shorty, and tons more. The festival kicks off on Thursday night (July 2nd) with a main stage Superdome performance from the hilarious comedian turned movie star Kevin Hart.

Essence Fest is more than a music festival though. The event also hosts a series of inspirational speakers and seminars about empowerment in the black community. This year’s line-up includes Deepak Chopra, Steve Harvey, and India.Arie. A full list and schedule of speakers can be found here.

The festival has grown increasingly popular the past half-decade thanks to its reputation as an affordable and multi-faceted event. This year, promoters have expanded the Essence Day Party Series with afternoon DJ sets meant to prime concertgoers for the night’s festivities. Day Party DJs include DJ Drama, Funkmaster Flex, and Biz Markie.

Performances start daily from Thursday through Sunday at 1pm at the Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd). Tickets can be bought separately or in conjunction with passes to the main events at the Superdome. The full Essence Fest experience is not complete without a few Day Party cocktails.

Here’s a few of our picks for artists to check out:

Thursday, July 2nd
Kevin Hart – Mainstage @ 8:45pm

Hart has come a long way from his former shoe-sizing gig in Philadelphia. He’s performed stand-up all across the country and routinely stars in some of the biggest Hollywood comedies, including this past year’s Get Hard with Will Ferrell.

Friday, July 3rd
Doug E. Fresh – Art of Hip-Hop Superlounge @ 7:05pm

The hip-hop veteran and beat boxing extraordinaire performs the hits from his thirty-plus year career.

Maze ft. Frankie Beverly – Mainstage @ 11:15pm

An Essence Fest crowd favorite, Maze feat. Frankie Beverly returns to the festival after several years away. Until 2009, the group closed out every Essence Fest, and now, thanks to popular demand, they’ll return with a much-anticipated performance.

Saturday, July 4th
Tank & the Bangas – Soul of R&B Superlounge @ 7:00pm

Local spoken word, soul, and hip-hop collective puts on a theatrical, eccentric show every time they grace the stage.

Erykah Badu – Mainstage @ 8:35pm

The Queen of Neo-Soul returns to Essence Fest once again. Badu has won numerous grammy’s and released multi-platinum records since the mid 90’s.

Missy Elliot – Mainstage @ 9:55pm

Missy Elliot has been a grammy-winning star musician for six-plus albums, but her profile expanded even further after an unforgettable Super Bowl performance earlier this year. Expect hits like “Get Your Freak On” and “Work It” to be highlights.

Sunday, July 5th
Kendrick Lamar – Mainstage @ 10:55pm

Compton, California native has gone from internet sensation to the heir of the west coast hip-hip throne in just under five years. He’s a chameleon of a songwriter, storyteller, and performer, combining intellectual hip-hop with jazz and pop like no other modern artist. Lamar makes for a fine closing act to the 2015 Essence Fest.

For more information, including travel and hotel tips, check out the Essence Fest website here.

Above image: Big Sam’s Funky Nation performing at a past Essence Festival, courtesy of Essence’s Facebook page.

POSTED Nov 27, 2018

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