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Wyclef Jean, Raphael Saadiq and India.Arie Kick Off ESSENCE Festival’s First Night Of Concerts

The fun continues next weekend.

It was a trip down memory lane from the comfort of your living room. ESSENCE Festival’s Evening Concert Series kicked off Saturday night and provided a much-needed dose of nostalgia, served with music and your choice of wine. Given the current state of the nation amid civil unrest and a relentless pandemic, it was the virtual girl’s trip we so desperately needed.

Wyclef Jean, Raphael Saadiq and India.Arie took us on a melodic escape as they performed their classics during Saturday night’s epic concert that benefited and celebrated essential workers, Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.

Jean opened his set with a radical guitar solo while a kick snare played in the background. The multi-instrumentalist gave us a taste of his skills on the keyboard before transitioning into his powerful anthem, “If I Was President”. We couldn’t help but rock to the island beat while reciting the song’s profound words that ring true today. 

We then went on a spiritual journey with Arie, whose pristine vocals provided healing and restoration. The R&B singer and her live band (Sis had her sound on point!) brought the soulful vibes with a heartfelt performance of her empowering song from 2000, “Strength, Courage and Wisdom”.

After a quick intermission, we returned to Saadiq serenading us with an acoustic performance of his 2019 release, “This World is Drunk,” followed by his beloved classic “Ask Of You”.

“Everybody in the world is going through so much and I just want to say, choose a way to raise your voice and say something that you think needs to be said to the world today,” said Saadiq before thanking ESSENCE for allowing him to be apart of this year’s festival.

Missed it? Hit the play button on the performances above. There’s plenty more performances during week two of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture. With names such as Michelle Obama, Patti Labelle, Swizz Beatz, Big Freedia and DJ D Nice on the lineup, you won’t want to miss it!

View the full week two roster, here.


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