Black Music Month Special #3: Essence Music Festival

Diana Ross headlines Friday at the New Orleans Superdome for the Essence Music Festival

Diana Ross headlines Friday at the New Orleans Superdome for the Essence Music Festival

Black Music Month began in 1979 when Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea to set aside a month dedicated to celebrating the impact of black music. Since 1979, Black Music Month has grown from a small commemoration to national proportions with events held annually across the country. In 2009, President Barack Obama further defined June as African American Music Appreciation Month declaring the start of summer as a celebration for all the black “musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters [who] have made enormous contributions to our culture.”

Essence magazine annually presents this major cultural event over the 4th of July weekend in New Orleans , and this year it will be celebrating its 23rd edition. Essence Music Festival has essentially become the grand finale event of Black Music Month. This year’s event actually does kick off during Black Music Month, on Friday, June 30, and runs through Sunday, July 2.

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 some of what to expect in The Big Easy.

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.

Chaka Khan headlines Saturday at the New Orleans Superdome for the Essence Music Festival

Chaka Khan headlines Saturday at the New Orleans Superdome for the Essence Music Festival

Friday, Diana Ross, John Legend, India, Arie, Junior, Rhonda Ross, and Afrika Mamas are on the Main Stage. Chaka Khan, Mary J Blige, Jill Scott, Monica, Jazmine Sullivan, and Ari Lennox take the Main Stage Saturday night. The Festival closes Sunday night as Chance The Rapper, Solange, Master P, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Cymphonique Miller, Ithawasa Lekhansela, Mystikal, Silkk The Shocker, and Mia X work the Main Stage.

Each of the four superlounges has a presenting sponsor. MC Lyte, Coline Creuzot, Kelly Price, Lalah Hathaway, Leela James, The Jones Girls ft. Shirley Jones, Chloe x Halle, and Tweet perform in the For the Love of R&B Superlounge Sponsored by Walmart. Mayah Dyson, AfroSoul, Heels Over Head, Daley, Emily Estefan, Jhene Aiko, Lizzo, Ro James, Shaggy, and Yuna perform in the Now Playing Superlounge Sponsored by Ford. Goldlink, Elle Varner, Gallant, June’s Diary, Michel’le, Moses Sumney, Sir the Baptist, and Teyana Taylor perform in the Hot Right Now Superlounge Sponsored by Coca-Cola. XSCAPE, Bj The Chicago Kid, Doug E. Fresh, PJ, PJ Morton, and Remy Ma perform in the ESSENCE Superlounge.

Go early! This year, 2017 ESSENCE Day of Service will emphasize serving the city’s seniors and youth. Join ESSENCE, Master P with Team Hope Nola in giving back to the city that gives so much on Thursday, June 29, 2017 featuring their first-ever celebrity basketball game. Help beautify a historic inner-city senior residence and enjoy a celebrity, charity basketball game benefiting New Orleans youth.

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is your daytime destination during festival weekend each day fom 10am – 6pm. Enjoy the ESSENCE Beauty & Style Expo, the nation’s highest attended & most diverse beauty fan expo. The best of what culture has to offer, the ESSENCE Art & Style Marketplace is where you will find an array of local and national artists exhibiting their crafts. Enjoy a day of shopping for fine art paintings, quilts, clay/ceramic sculpting, jewelry and other forms of wearable art clothing and accessories. Take a seat by the ESSENCE Eats stage as you indulge in amazing food from our food vendors, socialize with festival-goers and watch live demonstrations by celebrity and New Orleans’ chefs of their speciality dishes.

For more information, visit the official website at