Essence Music Festival celebrates 20th anniversary

Essence magazine annually presents a major cultural event over the 4th of July weekend in The Big Easy, and this year it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary edition. Dubbed ‘The Party With A Purpose,’ the Essence Music Festival brings together tens of thousands of people, mostly African American women, for an extended holiday weekend filled with music, art, speakers, fellowship and fun. Here’s a rundown of what to expect in New Orleans Thursday, July 3 through Sunday, July 6.

Throughout the weekend, The Shops at Essence will feature creative entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and community organizations. Each evening, the New Orleans Superdome will be host to a huge concert with several major acts on the Main Stage, with other artists performing in the Superlounges throughout the Dome Friday through Sunday. Thursday, July 3, Jesse Boykins III, Jazmine Sullivan, K. Michelle, Trey Songz, and NAS are on the Main Stage.

Friday, July 4, is the first of three full days of dynamic speakers at Empower U Seminars in the  [portfolio_slideshow id=10575]
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, free with no tickets needed, from 10 am-6 pm, Friday through Sunday.

Here are highlights of the first day. Healthy Living: Food Is Medicine with Dr. Aletha Maybank; Love & Relationships: Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man, Part II with Steve Harvey; Career Connection: National Urban League with Marc Morial; Real Women Entrepreneurs: Stories of Challenge & Success in the Marketplace; Style & Beauty: Tips from ESSENCE.com’s Hair Channel; Healthy Living: Colgate Total Conversation; Money & Power: Career Dressing ‘Fab Or Drab’ with Karli & Brandi Harvey; and Love & Relationships: The Silver Loving Playbook with Dr. Sherry Blake.

Janelle Monae, Nile Rodgers, and Prince take the Main Stage Friday night, while Superlounge performers include: Alice Smith, Estelle, Greta Prince, Kevin Ross, KING, Leela James, Naughty By Nature, and Stephanie Mills.

On Saturday, the Empower U Seminars continue with Supplier or Partner: Growing Beyond the Contract: Positioning your Business as a Strategic Partner; Style & Beauty: Tips from ESSENCE.com’s Hair Channel; Career Connection: Panel Discussion with top HR Executives; Love & Relationships: Learning from Love Mistakes with Sarah Jakes; Healthy Living: Colgate Total Conversation; Healthy Living: Sophisticated Sips with Tiffanie Barriere; Love & Relationships: Flirting 101 with Abiola Abrams; and the Money & Power: Chevron PowerMoves Pitch Session.

Saturday night’s show at the Superdome features Tank, Ledisi, The Roots, Jill Scott, and Mary J. Blige on the Main Stage, 112, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Daley, Doug E Fresh, Kouortney Heart, Liv Warfield, Marsha Ambrosius, Michelle Williams, and Tevin Campbell highlight the Superlounges.

Sunday’s Empower U features Money & Power: From Employee to Entrepreneur with Melinda Emerson; Education: Raising Our Kids To Succeed with Kira Orange Jones; Career Connection: Branding You presented by National Urban League; Healthy Living: Colgate Total Conversation; Healthy Living: Finding Your Peace Anywhere with Dr. Denese Shervington; Style & Beauty: Beat-the-Heat Hairstyles with Kim Kimble; and Education: Opportunities in TECH with #YESWECODE.

The Festival closes Sunday night as Tamar Braxton, Erykah Badu, Charlie Wilson, and Lionel Ritchie work the Main Stage. Amel Larrieux, August Alsina, Elle Varner, Gerorge Tandy, Jr., Jagged Edge, Rahee Devaughn, Robert Glasper, Sebastian Mikael, Sevyn Streeter, and The Pinettes perform in the Superlounges.

For more information, visit the official website at www.essence.com/festival.