On Mother’s Day weekend, Mary J. Blige and Pepsi kicked off the second annual Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit in Atlanta. For four days, attendees were able to experience informational panel discussions, live music events and more, all while being amidst a focus on women empowerment and unity.
This groundbreaking event began with An Evening with Robert Glasper, featuring two back-to-back shows in partnership with Live Nation Urban. The Grammy and Emmy-winning artist and producer delivered a powerful performance at City Winery Atlanta, where audience members were able witness Glasper’s combination of technical keyboard skills, along with impeccable comedic timing, in what became a unique and unforgettable set.
During the show, the renowned jazz musician excited the crowd with a range of songs and musical impressions, including renditions of Mary J. Blige’s “Be Happy,” Common’s “The Light,” and Sade’s “Cherish the Day.” Glasper also surprised guests with a special performance from Luke James and a poetry reading from Queen Sheba, which added to the air of intimacy in this popular Midtown establishment.
The following night, Strength of a Woman Festival celebrated #HipHop50 at the State Farm Arena with a star-studded concert that included the past, present, and future of hip hop music. Hosted by Kenny Burns, the evening featured a performance from the timeless R&B group, Jodeci. DJ Drama brought out T.I., K Camp, Young Dro, Bobby Valentino, Lloyd, Dem Franchize Boyz, and Travis Porter; followed by Jeezy, who energized the crowd with a string of hits such as “Geeked Up,” “Put On,” “Trapstar,” and more.
After Mary J. Blige was introduced, she performed many of her chart-topping tracks, and surprised guests with special performances by Missy Elliott, Rah Digga, Ciara, Lola Brooke, Jadakiss, and one of Wu-Tang Clan’s most celebrated members, Method Man, who rocked the stage by performing “All I Need” with the legendary singer. The show ended with a special set from Missy Elliott, who hopped off the stage and went around the arena, singing to select attendees in the packed State Farm Arena.
On Saturday, the Strength of a Woman Summit was held at AmericasMart, featuring a full day of pivotal panels and engaging programming from some of the most influential Black voices in a diverse background of industries. Here, visitors were able to receive career advice, and information that would help them to succeed in entrepreneurship, business, health and wellness.
Curated by Blige alongside Ayars Agency founder, Ashaunna Ayars, the top-tier programming and engaging panel discussions were woven together via summit host, Marsai Martin. Panelists included the 9x Grammy Award-winning entertainer, former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Ciara, Gail Bean, Monique Rodriguez, Earn Your Leisure’s Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings, Mara Brock Akil, Angela Yee, Brandee Evans, Raven Goodwin and Modern Blk Girl’s Tiffany James, among others.
At the summit, attendees enjoyed hearing from successful entrepreneurs, influencers, and experts in their fields, as well as the opportunity to connect with like-minded women. Keynote speaker Iyanla Vanzant, motivated listeners through her wisdom and knowledge, bringing the crowd in unison through exercises that further encouraged unity amongst guests.
On the third night, Kenny Burns returned to host the highly-anticipated R&B show that featured some of the biggest and brightest names in the genre. The multi-talented singer and actress Coco Jones captured the audience with a stirring performance of “ICU,” followed by Muni Long, who sang “Hrs & Hrs,” along with covers of “Lovers and Friends” and “U Got It Bad.” Lucky Daye, the Grammy-winning singer, graced the stage next, serenading the audience with contemporary songs. Summer Walker, who has taken the R&B world by storm, had the crowd swaying to her emotional ballads such as “Playing Games,” “Session 32” and “Insane.” The iconic Ms. Lauryn Hill closed out the night with her classic hits “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Killing Me Softly,” stealing the show with her classic records.
Sunday, The Purpose Ball: Bridging the Gap was held, which honored the LGBTQIA+ community’s undeniable impact on popular culture and highlighted the disparities of access and equity in healthcare for Black those demographics. Produced by actor and social advocate Miss Lawrence, this ball brought together the fashion, beauty, and entertainment communities, and featured appearances by commentator Dashaun Wesley and guest judges – including Mary J. Blige, Gail Bean, Brandee Evans, Blake Newby and more.
The event, which showcased the daring drag and voguing styles of the underground ballroom culture, was attended by a diverse crowd of performers, fashion insiders, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Saucy Santana, who has been making waves in the music industry, performed “Material Girl,” “Walk,” and his new single “Family.”
Illustrious houses – including the House of Balenciaga, House of Garçon, House of Margiela, and House of Mugler – competed for more than $60,000 in cash prizes across different categories in fashion, face, realness, and more. The Haus of Tisci’s Simone Tisci was crowned the Fem Face Queen for the beauty, elegance, and poise she brought to the runway and received the grand prize of $20,000.
The weekend officially came to an end with a night of comedy on Sunday evening, with Mike Epps headlining a hilarious experience on Mother’s Day with Henry Walsh, Erica Duchess, Navv Green, and Don’t Call Me White Girl.
In what was a phenomenal four days, the second annual Strength of A Woman Festival and Summit continued to elevate, educate, and empower women around the world to reach their highest potential. By living up to its mission of fostering community, opportunity and sisterhood, Mary J. Blige’s brainchild will only get bigger and better in the years to come.