To commemorate 20 years of the festival, we decided to give artists the opportunity to tell us which legendary artist they would like to tribute, and which artists they would like to assist them in that feat.
Pastor and gospel singer Kim Burrell was extremely excited at the thought of being able to put together a legendary tribute, and was pleasantly surprised when we told her it didn’t have to be a gospel artist.
“I would love to give tribute to Stevie Wonder. And I would like for it to be me, Chaka Khan, Prince, Harry Connick, Jr. and Wynton Marsalis.
“Chaka [Khan] because her voice is amazing and he wrote the most amazing song for her. And it would just be befitting. She has so much in her voice that could do his songs justice. Prince, because I think his rendition of a Stevie song would re-create a value to Stevie’s songs than the world has known.
“Harry Connick, Jr. because I think he would give a different perspective. Could you imagine him singing “Don’t you worry ’bout a thing'”– with his jazz slow thing–to Stevie? It would give relevance and an understanding to the jazz world aboout why Stevie’s music is so important.
“And Wynton, because he can’t sing. Thank you, Lord. [laughter] All of his talent is in that trumpet. And I would repeat that in front of him. He knows it. But he can play everything and I think if he would play something of Stevie’s it would give it a different thing. My love for Stevie is just that much that I want him to be re-created. There are some artists that you just say, ‘Hey, they had their day’, you know what I mean? But Stevie is just timeless. And that’s why I would want it to be them.”
We unveil a new Essence Fest Dream Team every Wednesday, so check back each week to see who your favorite artists consider worthy of a tribute on the Mainstage.