#20Years20Stages: Remembering ESSENCE Festival Performers We've Lost

We take a moment to pay our respects to the ESSENCE Festival performers who are no longer with us.

ESSENCE.COM Jun, 04, 2014

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With a velvet voice, Vandross' name is practically synonymous with R&B. Vandross performed with a myriad of major artists in his early career before becoming the lead singer of Change, later embarking on an incredible solo career.

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Etta James was known for her fiesty personality and big voice. The singer was 73 years old when she lost her battle to Leukemia in 2012. She performed at the 1996 and 2002 ESSENCE Festivals.

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The late Gerald Levert is pictured here with his father and former lead singer of the O'Jays Eddie Levert. Levert, who was also a part of the group LSG, died in July of 2006.

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With hits like "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Baby", singer-songwriter Barry White was a legend within R&B and disco. He performed at the second annual ESSENCE Festival in 1996. White passed away in 2003.

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There was no stronger love than that of Ashford & Simpson. The "Reunited" duo sparkled on stage together, and our hearts went out to the Ashford family when Nickolas died in 2011 of complications from throat cancer.

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Singer. Dancer. Poet. Author. Writer. Teacher. Dr. Maya Angelou used her life to teach all across the world. She made a special appearance at the 1997 ESSENCE Festival.

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Teena Marie's soulful voice earned her the title "Ivory Queen of Soul". Before dying of a seizure at 54 in 2010, she made a lot of noise when she performed at the 2009 ESSENCE Festival.

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The D.C. Go-Go sound wouldn't be alive if it weren't for Chuck Brown. The guitarist who earned the titled "The Godfather of Go-go" died in 2012. He joined us for ESSENCE Festival 2003.

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TheChicago jazz musician and poet who famously told the world "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" passed away in 2011. He blessed the festival with his presence in 2008.