Ever since a 17-year-old Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones appeared on Main Source’s 1991 classic “Live at the Barbeque,” hip-hop would be irrevocably changed. Nas. Gifted poet. Confessor. Agitator. Metaphor master. Street’s disciple. Political firebrand. Tongue-twisting genius. With music in his blood courtesy of famed blues musician father Olu Dara, the self-taught trumpeter attracted crowds with his playing at age 4, wrote his first verse at age 7 and, with 1994’s Illmatic, created one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time before he could legally drink. Two decades on, Nas remains an incendiary, outspoken and brutally candid rapper on the recently released Life is Good, his tenth album and sixth to debut at the top of the Billboard 200.
The 2014 ESSENCE Festival™ is excited to announce that this iconic artist will headline one of our stellar three nights of concerts July 4th weekend in New Orleans, LA. Join us Festival weekend as ESSENCE and Prince supports the Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund to champion awareness and foster education for disadvantaged youth to learn the language of computer coding and programming.
A GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter, performer, producer and CoverGirl spokesperson, Janelle Monáe is known for her unique style and groundbreaking sound. In 2010, Monáe released the highly-anticipated and critically-acclaimed album The ArchAndroid, which earned her two GRAMMY Award nominations. In 2013, her celebrated album The Electric Lady reached No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. The video for the album’s first single, “Q.U.E.E.N.,” received a coveted MTV VMA Moonman. Monáe also received Billboard’s prestigious 2013 Rising Star Award.
Awarding winning producer and artist Nile Rodgers joins Prince for his epic Festival performance on the main stage. Stay tuned for more information on this artist.
Iconic Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist, Mary J. Blige is a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment making Blige one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era. With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 29 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, Blige is a global superstar. And in the ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base—responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.
Three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, New York Times best selling poet, and critically acclaimed actress are only a few titles held by Jill Scott. Named People Magazine’s Top TV Breakout Star of 2010, Jill has been featured in every major magazine. Before having her recent album, The Light Of The Sun become the #1 record in the country and performing at The White House, the triple threat began her career collaborating with musical icons. With a background in musical theatre, Jill started her career as part of the Canadian cast of RENT, and has gone on to grow her true multimedia brand across books, clothing, TV and film. Her television credits include lead role in the HBO/BBC mini series filmed on location in Botswana, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, a Peabody Award-winning show. As well as Showtime’s Cavedweller and LMN’s Sins of The Mother for which she earned a NAACP Image Award and also became the second –most watched premiere in the networks history. For film, Scott has appeared in Hounddog, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? and Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?
The Roots, the legendary, Grammy Award winning hip hop crew and arguably the hardest working musicians in popular culture, turn 25 this year. The brainchild of childhood friends Ahmir “Questlove” Trotter and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, The Roots began their career playing bucket drums and freestyling on the streets and competing with Boyz II Men for top honors at The Philadelphia High school for Creative and Performing Arts. Named one of the greatest live acts by Rolling Stone, their career has evolved to include a weekly gig as the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, hosting sold-out jam sessions across country, collaborating on new works for contemporary performance (Lincoln Center, BAM, Kimmel Center), and consistently churning out Grammy®-nominated albums.
Over the past 13 years, New Orleans native Ledisi Anibade Young has recorded six albums, gained eight GRAMMY(R) nominations including a nod for “Best New Artist” in 2008, performed six times at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama, and earned a place in the pantheon of the best soul singers of her generation. Her new album The Truth is filled not only with Ledisi’s trademark soaring ballads but also something unexpected: a generous collection of up-tempo, beat-driven celebrations of love and lust. Ledisi explains that her new music is a reflection of her journey of self-discovery.
Tank is one of the most recognizable names in modern R&B, known for vivid storytelling and sensual love songs. He’s an icon in the making, with four albums and eight GRAMMY(R) nominations under his belt. He’s also a singer who carries the torch of masters like Marvin Gaye and Al Green, while redefining R&B for a new decade. The singer/songwriter/producer released his Atlantic Records debut Now or Never and he describes as his most confident yet. His secret is simple: He remains true to who he is, as a man and an artist.
Lionel Richie is an international Superstar with over 100 million albums sold worldwide and has been honored with countless awards including: An Oscar, 5 Grammys, 16 American Music Awards, and a Golden Globe among many others. Lionel is one of only two songwriters in history to achieve the honor of having number one records for nine consecutive years. Through his success Lionel has given back through The Lionel Richie Foundation which is an innovative program that will strengthen the partnership between major corporations, organizations and Tuskegee University while expanding the reach of African American Studies programs.
Charlie Wilson has taken the word "Icon" to another level – with two separate careers. First as the lead singer for the legendary GAP Band and now as a solo artist. He has been honored with a BMI Icon Award, a Soul Train Icon Award, a Trumpet Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and much more. His performances at the Essence Festivals are legendary and we look forward to him performing songs from his GRAMMY(R)-nominated albums, including his 2014 GRAMMY(R)-nominated song, “If I Believe” from the Love, Charlie album.
Erykah Badu, best known for her eccentric style and cerebral music, is a four-time GRAMMY® award winning American soul singer and songwriter. Regarded as the “First Lady of Neo-Soul” or the “Queen of Neo-Soul”, Badu’s sound—a concoction of soul, hip-hop and jazz—cannot be contained to a single genre. Self-described as a “mother first”, Badu is a touring artist, producer, dj, teacher, community activist, holistic healer, doula, vegan, and conscious spirit.
In 2008, Jazmine Sullivan released her debut album Fearless, which featured the chart-topping hit singles “Need You Bad” and “Bust Your Windows,” and earned the Philly native an amazing seven Grammy nominations including Best New Artist. Jazmine released her second album, the critically acclaimed Love Me Back in 2010, of which the Associated Press declared as “something amazing” and consequently garnered her an eighth Grammy nomination. The recipient of Billboard’s Rising Star Award, Jazmine is currently working on her highly-anticipated third album, slated for release this year on RCA Records.
Jesse Boykins III is a singer / songwriter with a timeless sound. He is the creator of a new approach to music he calls “World Soul” in which he shares a point of view that crosses all genres, generations and cultures. In early 2008, Jesse Boykins III released his debut EP Dopamine: My Life On My Back, a soulful narrative covering a range of emotions from infatuation to lust to obsession with love and the pain of love lost. His follow-up release The Beauty Created, a critically-acclaimed LP soon followed.Currently, Jesse Boykins III is gearing up for the release of his new album Love Apparatus out April 22, 2014. The highly anticipated album features lauded singles “Plain” and “Show Me Who You Are,” which have received acclaim from the likes of Esquire, Noisey, VIBE, Okayplayer and more.
Known to millions as a cast member on the hit VH1 series Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, K. Michelle embarks on “The Rebellious Soul Tour” this November to celebrate her blockbuster new album, “REBELLIOUS SOUL.” The acclaimed album made a stunning #1 debut atop Billboard’s “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” chart upon its release earlier this summer. Furthermore, the album entered the overall SoundScan/Billboard 200 at #2 – the highest debut on the main chart for a female R&B singer's first album since March 2001. “REBELLIOUS SOUL” is highlighted by the hit singles, “V.S.O.P.” and “Can’t Raise A Man.” K. Michelle recently performed these two tracks at the Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas, where she also took home the Best New Artist award. The companion video for “V.S.O.P.” has garnered over 5 million views on K. Michelle’s official YouTube channel (http://youtu.be/X5y9Q5CmWYg). In addition to its massive popular success, “REBELLIOUS SOUL” has also received widespread critical applause, with the New York Times hailing it as a “milestone…it has the confidence of survival.” Vibe praised Michelle’s “triumphant vocals,” singling out “V.S.O.P.” as “energetic and infectious…(the album’s) shining star.”
2013 was a break-out year for Tamar Braxton as she solidified herself as one of R&B’s leading divas. The Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, and television producer released her #1 debuting album Love and War, starred in and produced two hit tv shows (Braxton Family Values and Tamar & Vince) and co-hosted FOX’s daytime talk show The Real. In support of the record, she performed to packed houses across the U.S. on a 30-city tour supporting John Legend, engaged in a whirlwind European promo run, and even picked up two 2013 Soul Train Awards, after performing at the event in Las Vegas. She also released her very first holiday album, Winter Loversland. On top of it all, she gave birth to her first son, feeling like as she puts it, “I won!”
Grammy-nominated R&B superstar Trey Songz is an award-winning singer-songwriter, rapper, producer and actor who the late Ahmet Ertegun proclaimed to be “among the most promising R&B artists we have had on Atlantic since we started the company 60 years ago.” “CHAPTER V,” his highly-anticipated fifth album and the follow up to his 2010 album “PASSION, PAIN & PLEASURE,” featured the multi-platinum hit “Bottoms Up (feat. Nicki Minaj)” and the #1 single “Can’t Be Friends,” both of which helped the album go on to secure RIAA Gold certification. The multi-faceted Songz also has an eye towards digital innovation and, with more than 30 million followers across varied social platforms, recently launched his own social network – The Angel Network – in partnership with Handmade Mobile.