Trinidad and Haiti were truly represented at the ESSENCE Festival this year. Machel Montano, Kes The Band, and Wyclef Jean had some amazing sets that were full of surprises.
Following the Grammy Award-nominated singer Mickey Guyton, the Trinidadian soca group Kes The Band rocked the crowd and sang many of their hits. In what was a dance filled set, they performed many of their hits. Before leaving the stage, Kees Dieffenthaller told the audience that “New Orleans and Trinidad are similar – it’s a very similar energy.”
Shortly after 8pm, Machel Montano – also of Trinidadian descent – graced the ESSENCE stage. He performed several of his chart-topping songs, including “Like Ah Boss” from his 2015 album Monk Monté. Before the end of the set, Montano brought out Ashanti to assist with their collaboration titled, “The Road.”
During intermission, Loni Love and Terrence J put on an absolute clinic when it comes to audience engagement, keeping the crowd excited before introducing the night’s next performer – which was the iconic singer, songwriter and rapper, Wyclef Jean, who hails from Haiti.
Jean came out to his song “911,” where he showcased his skills by playing his guitar in several different ways, before performing hits such as “Maria Maria” and “Gone Till November.” About 30 minutes into his set, he brought out a surprise special guest – the legendary Ms. Lauryn Hill. The fellow Fugees members fed off of each other’s energy, and they rocked out to “How Many Mics,” “Fu-Gee-La,” and “Ready or Not.”
After Hill walked off stage to a standing ovation, Jean brought out Machel Montano. The two previously got together to create the song “Carnival Survivors,” which also featured Canibus. The city of New Orleans truly felt the island vibes on Friday night. Jean, Montano, and Kes the Band all put on amazing performances, and the crowd was grateful for the evening’s special guests – Ashanti and Hill.
The first of the ESSENCE Festival’s concert series really set the tone of the rest of the weekend, which featured performances from Nick Minaj, Janet Jackson, The Roots, and so much more!