15 Reasons Why We're Looking Forward to the ESSENCE Festival

It's finally here! We've been waiting all year to finally get back to New Orleans for one of the most exciting festivals around. Of course it doesn't hurt that we're the ones putting it together. Who else would bring you Beyonce, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae and Maxwell on one stage? And how about Iyanla Vanzant, Lisa Nichols and Steve Perry on our empowerment stage? See the 15 reasons why we're excited about this year's ESSENCE Fest.

ESSENCE Editors Jun, 21, 2013

1 of 15 Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images and Jerritt Clark/WireImage

"I am the Jill Scott fan club president. I'll be the one screaming all the lyrics as she performs at the Superdome on Friday, July 5." --Yolanda Sangweni, Entertainment Editor, ESSENCE.com.

2 of 15 Frank Micelotta


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"Maxwell and I will finally make eye contact this year. I have no idea how but gosh darn it it will happen at ESSENCE Fest during his performance on Friday night...LOL." --Yolanda Sangweni, Entertainment Editor, ESSENCE.com

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"Everyone gets so excited when The ESSENCE Fest comes to town. Even the folks on the airplane are hyped. It's like Soul Plane on steroids!"--Tanisha Sykes, Senior Editor, Personal Finance & Careers, ESSENCE

5 of 15 Susan Gary Photography

"I'm working out at the gym every day just to be able to enjoy all of the Nawlins' food." --Tanisha Sykes, Senior Editor, Personal Finance & Careers, ESSENCE

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"Of course I love the mainstage, but nothing beats the intimate performances in the superlounges. Plus, I get to discover new talent like the dynamic duo known as St. Beauty."--Elosi Ikharo, ESSENCE.com Sales Planning Manager

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"Her single 'Next to Me' is probably on just about everyone’s playlist at the moment and for a very good reason: her voice is simply powerful. I can’t contain my excitement to see the Scotland native pull off her first American festival performance." --Monique Valeris, ESSENCE Festival

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"I can't wait to see Solange perform, And, of course, I want to see what she has on."--Celia Smith, Fashion Editor, ESSENCE.com

9 of 15 Michael Rowe

"Yes, the concerts are amazing, but Nephew Tommy keeps the show alive between acts! He always brings his best jokes and great spirit to the stage — not to mention starting the old school dance competitions in the audience." --Derrick Taylor, Associate Editor, ESSENCE.com

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"Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is one of the most dynamic personalities around. I can't wait to hear him speak on the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience on Saturday, July 6." --Charlise Ferguson, Partnerships Editor, ESSENCE.com

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"Ronnie,  Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny. Any chance I get to see them, I jump on it. I know I’ll see an amazing show. Plus when I’m with them, I become a candy girl all over again." --Akkida McDowell, Deputy Research Editor, ESSENCE

12 of 15 Hosea Johnson

Iyanla Vanzant

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"Chef Roblé, Laz Alonso, Redaric Williams and Nathan Owens are going to reveal exactly what men think about sex and love during the Festival’s Empowerment Experience on Friday, July 5. Don’t you want to know?" --Monique Valeris, ESSENCE Festival

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"I love the mix of cultures in NOLA: French, Haitian, Cuban, African and Southern. From the food to the music, architecture to art, it feels like home." --Emil Wilbekin, Editor-at-Large, ESSENCE

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"For the first time, ESSENCE Fest has a FREE Family Reunion Day event at the Woldenberg Riverfront Park. I can’t wait to dig into some tasty BBQ, take in performances by everyone from Doug E. Fresh to Tweet (yes, she’s back), and just enjoy some good old family time." --Monique Valeris, ESSENCE Festival