Essence Festival Preview

Essence Fest, the “party with a purpose,” returns to the Superdome and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans July 5-8 with another stellar lineup.

Originally launched in 1995 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its namesake magazine, Essence Fest has grown into the country’s largest festival celebrating Black culture and empowerment through performances and conversations. Among the iconic talent gracing its lineups over the years are Beyoncé, Prince, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Pattie Labelle, Aretha Franklin, Kanye West, Diana Ross, and Chance the Rapper.

Heading things up this year are Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Kelela, Miguel, Daniel Caesar, and Big Freedia. Also featured are a special set curated by the Roots with Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Snoop Dogg; “a unique DJ-curated experience” with Idris Elba and MC Lyte; Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First” performance featuring Missy Elliot, Remy Ma and others; Doug E. Fresh’s Legends of Hip-Hop Show with Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee; and Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing Experience featuring Wreckx-n-Effect, Blackstreet and Guy. The daytime conferences will feature Iyanla Vanzant, Angela Rye, DeRay McKesson, Vivica Fox, Lester Holt, and a keynote by Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and actress, Lena Waithe. There is also a beauty carnival, the Essence Eats stage featuring some of the top chefs, and the All Access experience featuring interviews with film and television celebrities. Overall, more than 40 acts will appear between the Mainstage and the four Superlounges. It’s easy to see how a trip to the festival inspired the hit film, Girls Trip and drew more than 470,000 fans in 2017.

“In 2018, women are at the forefront of a seismic shift reverberating across the cultural landscape, and this movement comes to life for our community at the ESSENCE Festival,” said Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications. “Some of the most iconic female artists and powerhouse performers of this generation—Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia and others—embrace ESSENCE and the Festival as a sacred space to entertain, inspire, revel in culture and be renewed.”