ESSENCE Music Festival Portraits

Are you ready for the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival? There are only two days left until the party begins down in the Big Easy, kicking off four days of fun including music's brightest stars. As a headliner for EMF three years in a row, Mary J. Blige brings her own brand of hip-hop soul to the fete every year. This time, Mary will close out Saturday night's show on July 7 with hits like "No More Drama," "Family Affair" and "Just Fine." Let's take a peak out who else will hit the stage down in New Orleans.
ESSENCE.COM Jun, 29, 2012

1 of 19 Hosea Johnson

Are you ready for the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival? The party begins down in the Big Easy on Thursday, kicking off four days of fun including music’s brightest stars. As a headliner for EMF three years in a row, Mary J. Blige (pictured in ESSENCE’s offices during her stint as a Guest Editor for the magazine) brings her own brand of hip-hop soul to the fête every year. This time, Mary will close out Saturday night’s show on July 7 with hits like “No More Drama,” “Family Affair” and “Just Fine.” Let’s take a peek at who else will hit the stage down in New Orleans.

2 of 19 Michael Rowe

Toronto songstress Melanie Fiona will be in the house at the ESSENCE Music Festival performing on a SuperLounge stage on Sunday night, July 8. We can’t wait to hear jams like “It Kills Me” and “4 AM” from the sultry Guyanese beauty.

3 of 19 Michael Rowe

Hometown hero and songstress Teedra Moses is thrilled to be performing at the ESSENCE Music Festival for the first time. Catch her on a SuperLounge stage on Saturday, July 7.

4 of 19 Michael Rowe

Grabbing our hearts with her hit “American Boy,” the British singer Estelle continues to school us on music and how to be fashionable. This year she’ll be performing tracks from her latest album, All of Me, at EMF on a SuperLounge stage; catch her on Sunday, July 8.

5 of 19 Michael Rowe

Is there ever a bad time to hear songs like “You Dropped the Bomb,” or “Yearning for Your Love”? We don’t think so either — which is why we’re too excited to see Charlie Wilson perform all of his hits, including those from his years as the leader of the funky Gap Band, on Friday, July 6.

6 of 19 Michael Rowe

That voice, right? Ledisi is one of our favorites here at ESSENCE. From her style to her attitude, this Bay Area-born singer will be a joy to see on the main stage on Saturday, July 7. Alright?

7 of 19 Michael Rowe

Born in Liverpool, England, Marsha Ambrosius has an American soul and proved it with her longtime residence in Philadelphia. The former Floetry lead singer is prepping her sophomore follow-up to her Late Nights and Early Mornings album, which is slated to come later this year. We just can’t wait to hear her lovely alto during her SuperLounge performance on Friday, July 6.

8 of 19 Michael Rowe

Do you like a little 5 o’clock shadow? Well, actor Omari Hardwick does, and we like the look on him. Catch the thespian at the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience before his new film, Sparkle, hits theaters in August.

9 of 19 Michael Rowe

The brainchild of Tameka “Tiny” Harris, the OMG Girlz, comprised of Miss Star (Zonnique Pullins), Miss Beauty (Bahja Rodriguez) and Miss Baby Doll (Breaunna Womack), have been sharpening their skills on the stage and in the studio for a little while now. This year, the trio will perform on EMF’s very first New & Next stage, highlighting young and fresh talent, on Thursday night.

10 of 19 Michael Rowe

A tried and true comedian, Thomas “Nephew Tommy” Miles is co-hosts The Steve Harvey Morning Show with the comic who brought us Think Like a Man. Tommy has hosted the ESSENCE Music Festival for two years, and he will bring the funny between ESSENCE’s brightest stars this weekend in New Orleans.

11 of 19 Michael Rowe

Releasing his fifth studio album earlier this year, This Is How I Feel, Tank has proven that he’s got a way with the ladies. Boasting new songs like “Next Breath” and classics like “Maybe I Deserve,” the Midwest crooner will be a main stage delight on Saturday, July 7.

12 of 19 Michael Rowe

Is it just us or does MC Lyte seem to look younger as the years pass? Between her, Sade and Jada Pinkett Smith, we want to know the secret! Catch the flawless Lyte at the first ESSENCE Music Festival Block Party on Thursday, July 5, alongside Doug E. Fresh. If you’re not in the house, you’re paper thin.

13 of 19 Michael Rowe

Following the release of his latest album Mister Nice Guy in 2011, Eric Roberson is hitting the ESSENCE Music Festival stage for the first time this year. According to the New Jersey singer-songwriter, we can expect him to have a ball on the SuperLounge stage on Saturday, July 7.

14 of 19 Michael Rowe

Meet Greta Prince, the singer who won last year’s ESSENCE R&B Star contest and opened for Mary J. Blige. This year, Prince will rock the SuperLounge stage on Sunday, July 7. Don’t miss this burgeoning talent!

15 of 19 Michael Rowe

Yes, Leah LaBelle is young, but this Seattle native — who is signed to L.A. Reid’s Epic Records — has a voice to rightfully claim a spot near Taylor Dane. Ms. LaBelle’s upcoming debut album is the collaborative brainchild of both Pharrell Williams and Jermaine Dupri. Make sure you catch what she’s working with at the SuperLounge stage on Saturday, July 7.

16 of 19 Michael Rowe

Fabulous style maven June Ambrose will be at the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience doling out sartorial dos (and don’ts) in New Orleans. Just make sure you’re on the good side of her personable commentary, OK ladies?

17 of 19 Michael Rowe

A former host of BET’s 106 & Park, Terrence J is doing quite well for himself, Joining the cast of The Game recently as well as landing a starring role in Steve Harvey’s box office hit Think Like a Man. This baby-faced actor will be stopping by the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience on Friday, July 6, for the sure-to-be-hot panel “What Men Want.” Oh boy.

18 of 19 Michael Rowe

Following the success of his former group 112, Q Parker has struck out on his own. Releasing “Show You How” from his upcoming solo debut album THE MANual, the crooner is bringing his brand of R&B to the SuperLounge stage on Friday, July 6.

19 of 19 Michael Rowe

Wondering if Raquel will be able to sustain her new business? Anxious about Kesha discovering Malcolm’s “new” relationship? Well, don’t miss the cast of VH1’s drama-filled “Single Ladies” at the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience on Friday, July 6.