With over half a million people in attendance, this year’s 2018 Essence Music Festival blew the roof off the city of New Orleans with record-breaking tourism throughout the region for the magazine’s 24th annual event. With the success of Hollywood’s box office smash Girls Trip, scores of women from around the country descended upon the city taking it by storm. Attendees were treated to 3 Day Empowerment sessions which were free and open to the public at The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. With a plethora of booths, musical performances, panels and open forums; topics such as finance, business, education, health & wellness, and beauty enriched the mind, body and spirit.
Major sponsors included the likes of Ford Motor Company, Walmart, State Farm, and Coco Cola, having staged areas were celebrity presence and performances were in full effect. Endless giveaways and swag bags were in abundance to keep the festival goers appeased, along with several vendors with unique and one of kind items to commemorate the event.
Essence Festival Center Stage: HBO’s Insecure cast members Yvonne Orji and Y’lan Noel
The nighttime portion of the Essence Festival, is of course, the music. This year, all 3 nights of concerts were sold out at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Night One Mainstage held performances from artists such as Ledisi, Miguel, Snoop Dogg, The Roots featuring special guests, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Anthony Hamilton and Kirk Franklin. Night Two brought girl power with performances by Xscape, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Salt & Pepper, ending with showstopper, Mary J. Blige. Night Three ushered in an old school vibe with Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing Curation featuring SWV, Wrecks n Effects, Blackstreet, Keith Sweat and Guy. Fantasia moved the crowd to tears with an emotional performance ‘Lose to Win’ and last, but certainly not least, the one and only legendary, Janet Jackson bringing the house down and the festival to an ignited close.
All in all, the Essence Festival is a delight for the senses, offering encouragement and empowerment, good vibes, fun, laughter and surprises. An almost obligatory trip, it’s a must for girlfriends, couples or just those wanting to have a cultural, enlightening experience with memories to last a lifetime.
Reported from New Orleans, LA
All Photos: Anique Monae