The 2013 ESSENCE Festival™ Presented by Coca-Cola® will feature one of the best R&B lineups around, with Beyonce, Maxwell, and Jill Scott heading to New Orleans for the three-day celebration. Need more proof of just how hot the party will be? Check out our gallery of last year’s performers and view the full 2013 lineup after the jump.
The dead of winter hasn’t hit NYC yet but the lineup for the Essence Music Festival has us dreaming of warmer weather and beignets. Every year the EMF is held in New Orleans on Fourth of July weekend to celebrate black music and culture. Brandy, Jill Scott, Maxwell and Keyshia Cole are scheduled to hit the stage for the 19th annual event that takes over the city for four days.
Eight stages will rock with a myriad of artists including LL Cool J, New Edition and Charlie Wilson; and crowds will gather around smaller stages for Mint Condition, Blackstreet, Big Daddy Kane and others. Essence Music Festival is a big deal–“one of the most important forums for non-hip-hop black music and culture” according to the New York Times.
Last summer VH1 flew to New Orleans for the food, music and culture of the city and event. One of The Top 5 Most Entertaining Moments was Dru Hill reuniting on stage! How’s that for a trip down memory lane? Summer, we miss you. Come again soon.
Jill Scott, Keyshia Cole and Brandy to Headline 2013 Essence Festival [New York Times]
[Photo: Getty Images]
Beside’s Kevin Hart’s hilarious set Saturday night, there were some pretty LOL-worthy instances at Essence Music Festival in New Orleans this past weekend, and even though it was impossible to be everywhere and see everything, we put together a short list of our Top 5 Most Entertaining Moments for you all to experience vicariously.
1. LisaRaye McCoy Makes A Ca$h Out Joke
If you haven’t heard Ca$h Out’s “Cashin’ Out,” you’re missing out. Luckily for us, LisaRaye is hipper than most and made a delightful joke to VH1 News’ Janell Snowden on Friday morning, that went something like this:
Janell: I wish I had all the men that you do, LisaRaye.
LisaRaye: Shoot, I do too. We all need to be “smokin’ on that Keisha.”
If you don’t watch Single Ladies, this may not seem funny, but I assure you, it was. LisaRaye plays a Keisha Green on the show, and in real life, can pun on the character by referencing one of the most ratchet tunes of the summer; adding to the growing list of reasons that she’s a true she-ro of mine.
After an already action-packed weekend of Superlounge performances, empowerment panels, and headline-grabbing mainstage sets, Essence Music Festival came to a close last night in New Orleans. Like many other festivals, Essence is notorious for headlining sets extending late into the early morning of the next day, but when the artists performing are esteemed members of music’s nobility, you stay put!
Kirk Franklin kicked off the festival’s third and final night, handing the mic off to VH1 star Fantasia before soulful crooner Anthony Hamilton and his phenomenal back-up vocalists transformed the Mercedes Benz Superdome into a refreshing gospel experience. The big-ticket performers – Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Queen of Funk Chaka Khan – would soon follow.
As the first woman inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Aretha Franklin has free reign to pretty much do whatever she wants on stage, and did just that. She’d open her mouth, and magic would pour out; graciously bestowing gifts like “(Your Love has Lifted me) Higher and Higher,” “Natural Woman,” “Think,” and “Something He Can Feel,” the 18-time Grammy winner who sang at President Obama’s inauguration was met with a respectful, hyper-attentive audience that contrasted the normal bustling-in-and-out-of-their-seats EMF crowd. Despite the fact that she would at times meander into telling stories and jokes, appropriating an audience-member’s fedora, complaining about the venue’s sound, and acknowledging friends of hers that were in the crowd by asking them to stand, Franklin’s lengthy 90-minute set was any music fan’s dream even that late in the evening.
While Franklin changed her wardrobe from an orange gown to a green and gold frock mid-performance, a presentation was held in her honor, giving Queen of Soul a key to the city of New Orleans by its mayor Mitch Landrieu, a state award by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and the Essence Power Award from Essence Communications President, Michelle Ebanks. Representing “entertainment, empowerment and elegance,” Franklin was clearly the ideal choice for this year’s awards, and once the Queen of Soul returned to the EMF stage, she performed crowd favorite “Chain of Fools,” sang from what she called “the book of Simon and Garfunkel,” performing a cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and even found time to pay tribute to the late and legendary Whitney Houston. “She was beautiful, she was warm, she was real,” recounted Franklin of her beloved “Christian sister” as she took to the piano to execute a rendition of Houston’s heart-wrenching “I Will Always Love You.”
For the fifth time in as many years, Mary J. Blige graced the Essence Music Festival stage last night in New Orleans. Galvanizing her legion of ravenous fans during a set that followed main-stage performances from Tank, Mary Mary, Ledisi and comedian Kevin Hart, even the ushers were two-stepping unapologetically; in between performing a number of hits that spanned her entire twenty-year career, Blige also made time to unleash covers of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and Charlie Wilson’s “Outstanding” for the Mercedes Benz Superdome crowd.
When the beat dropped for songs like “Real Love,” “Family Affair,” “Just Fine,” and “Not Gon’ Cry,” audience members took to their feet and assisted the sequin-clad star with lyrics and adlibs alike, creating an energetic exchange with their heroine that was, on more than one occasion, acknowledged by a grateful, “so pleased” Mary J. Blige. Read more…
Each year in early July, the city of New Orleans welcomes fans of R and B, soul, and gospel music to flood its streets and enjoy three days of empowerment panels and concerts at Essence Music Festival. Listeners of all ages can take to the Mercedes Benz Superdome and find something they like, be it budding stars like yesterday’s blues-infused Gary Clark Jr. performing at one of the festival’s Superlounges, 70s and 80s family-trio The Pointer Sisters kicking off the main stage headliners, or Trey Songz, a radio-friendly artist who makes young girls and their mothers scream uncontrollably as he slowly disrobes on stage with each passing song in his set.
After The Pointer Sisters, last night’s main stage headliners shifted to Keyshia Cole and Trey, the former of which was likely booked to help promote her new BET reality show and upcoming album since she’s been on hiatus from making music while starting her family with husband, NBA player Daniel Gibson. Woman To Woman, Cole’s fifth studio record, is expected to be released in the Fall. Trey too has an upcoming album to promote; also his fifth LP, the August 21st release is aptly titled Chapter V. The highlight of the evening, however, was a set from neo-soul crooner D’Angelo.