El Debarge kicked the evening off with his big comeback performance. He opened with a tribute to all his classics. Guests swayed and cheered as Debarge delivered greats like “Rhythm of the Night” and “There’ll Never Be” and when he got to “I Like It’ the crowd went wild. His fans proudly cheered him on to express their gratitude for his pitch-perfect performance (even when he was sitting on the stage Indian style while singing) and they immediately took to Twitter to tell the world he was back to his old self again. He also performed his latest hit “Second Chances” much to the joy of fans.
The one and only Chaka Khan was up next and as usual just her presence alone had the audience mesmerized. She shook that sassy red hair, belted out her famous notes and really brought the stage alive as she went through an awesome lineup that included favorites like “Through The Fire” and “Ain’t Nobody”. As Chaka moved effortlessly between favorites she shared love and laughs with the audience to be sure they were feeling good too and they ate it up, screaming “Chaka Khan” every chance they got. Chaka brought out New Orleans’ own Ledisi to join her in a sure to be classic performance of “I’m Every Woman” and even gave everyone a little “Sweet Thing”.
“I wish this for myself and for everyone in here,” Chaka announced with a huge smile on her face right before performing “Everlasting Love”. When the performance ended the audience was left craving more vocal phenomenon, so it was a good thing Jill Scott was on deck.
Jill looked beyond amazing when she strutted her stuff on the stage showing off he r slim new physique. When she took her place behind the mic and began to belt out tunes like only she can the crowd hopped onto their feet and stayed there loving every minute of her short and chic haircut, sexy black leggings, and stunning sparkle tunic. It was Jill’s moment and she knew it. With her bright red lips curved into a permanent and giant smile she sang the songs that made her famous and the new brand new ones that are keeping her that way. (Including a go-go moment that had DCers in the building going bananas!) Every woman in the Superdome was feeling pretty super as they chimed in to help sing “Is It The Way”, “Gimme”, and of course, “Golden”. Jill also performed “Rolling Hills” which became an instant fan favorite when she performed it on the BET Awards.
Kanye West returned to the ESSENCE festival stage last night with three acts of greatness set to a breathtaking art deco Greek backdrop that left fans with their jaws dropped and their diamonds in the air. Opening Act I with “Higher” Ye made an entrance like only he can, erupting from seemingly nowhere on a crane like platform and rising high above the crowd. Kanye was in full form and it showed. He cranked out hit after hit after hit (“Jesus Walks” “Diamonds (Sierra Leone)” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” to name a few) while elaborate light shows ricocheted off the walls of the dome, choreographed dancers acted out the emotions, and pyrotechnics fell from the sky like electric rain. It was the over-top-genius Kanye’s fans adore that makes his stage presence so unforgettable. During meaningful and honest (hey, you know Kanye) rants between acts Ye revealed that blogger and media lies are why he no longer does press interviews and that he’s thinking about a certain woman a little more than he wants to.
Simply put; Kanye, Jill, Chaka, and El Debarge were the dream team last night.