by (@Lacezilla)

Music Royalty And Heartfelt Tributes Close Out Essence Music Fest


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.”

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by (@Lacezilla)

VH1′s Top 100 Videos of 2011 … So Far

As we parallel park into July and officially hit the curb of this year’s halfway point, it’s time to take a quick look back at what the past six months have taught us. Not conventional life lessons, however; we’re talking about stuff that’s a little bit less intense and also involves YOU! That’s right, in the first installment of our Top 100 Videos of 2011… So Far, we’re spilling the beans on the #100-51 most clicked-and-viewed videos on VH1.com. You’ll see that this pi?ata-like list of content contains tasty treats and slippery surprises alike! We’ve got brand-new videos that just recently launched, some VH1 Classic leaning clips (hey there, Megadeth), repeat offenders, and of course, effervescent, essential vids from the music video cannon. So take a look at the first fifty videos below and don’t forget to come back later this week as we continue on our quest to discover what artist snags the #1 spot!

100. Jack Johnson, “From The Clouds”
99. Chris Brown, “Deuces”
98. Ke$ha, “Tik Tok”
97. Bruno Mars, “The Other Side”
96. Beyonc?, “Video Phone (Extended Remix)”
95. Usher, “OMG”
94. B.o.B, “Airplanes”
93. Taylor Swift, “Mine”
92. Sara Bareilles, “King Of Anything”
91. John Legend & The Roots, “Wake Up Everybody”

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by (@unclegrambo)

Fantasia Gets Emotional During Live At VH1 Performance Of “Bittersweet”

Just over one week ago, Fantasia popped by the VH1 offices here in Times Square, mere days after she was hospitalized following her overdose. Late last week, we brought you a clip of Fantasia performing “Free Yourself” as part of our Live At VH1 series, and today we’ve got two brand new clips for you. Above, you’ll find Fantasia’s emotional performance of “Bittersweet,” and below you can watch “Even Angels.” Each song is a testament to the strength and resolve she has as both an artist and a person.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Fantasia Performs “Free Yourself” Live At VH1

Everyone knows that it’s been a difficult couple of weeks for Fantasia. But, as anyone who has ever followed showbiz understands, “The show must go on!” Fantasia, the trouper that she is, popped by our offices here in the heart of Times Square on Monday and performed a few dazzling numbers for us as part of our Live At VH1 series. And, being the good people that we are, we’d love to share them with you!

Today, we’ve got a great performance of the title track from her 2004 debut album, Free Yourself. We’ll have some more cuts for you from this intimate performance here at VH1 next week. Oh, and don’t forget that her new album, Back To Me, came out on Tuesday! Enjoy.