Everybody knows ain’t no party like an Essence party. Fourteen years ago, ESSENCE, the lifestyle magazine for Black women, launched a one-time celebration to commemorate our 25th anniversary—the Essence Music Festival. Since then, the annual megashow has been hailed as one of the country’s “Top 10 Leading Brand Events,” by Advertising Age and become a cultural staple in New Orleans. The event has come to mean even more to Essence and the resilient people of the city in the post-Hurricane Katrina years. This year, we celebrate the 14th Annual Essence Music Festival presented by Coca-Cola. Thousands are scheduled to attend the three-day event (July 4 through 6) of superstar performances (Patti LaBelle, Rihanna, Jill Scott) and empowering seminars (Bishop T.D. Jakes, Tyler Perry).
In 2004, the O’Jays rocked the Essence Music Festival, singing timeless classics such as “For the Love of Money.”
Each year Essence continues its tradition of bringing folks in the Big Easy some of entertainment’s biggest names. Over the years, some of our favorite artists have taken center stage at the Superdome including Chaka Khan, Destiny’s Child, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, D’Angelo and The O’Jays. Here’s a look back at the most memorable moments of the nation’s largest Black music event.
The ladies wondered how it feels when D’Angelo sang hits from his platinum-selling album Brown Sugar.
Hip-Hop pioneers Run-D.M.C. proved why they are rap royalty in 2000.
Chaka Khan was every woman as she wooed the crowd with her sultry style and sound in 2000.
Angie Stone serenaded the Essence Music Festival crowd for the first time in 2000.
More than 30 years ago in New Orleans, Patti LaBelle, along with Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, recorded their famous hit “Lady Marmalade,” which was produced by legendary musician Allan Toussaint. At the 2001 festival, LaBelle proved she only gets better with time.
Jill Scott performed her hit singles “Gettin’ in the Way” and “Long Walk” at the 2001 event.
Sporting her signature style, Erykah Badu had the audience wrapped up as she belted soulful anthems “Tyrone” and “Next Lifetime” in 2001.
Soul pioneer Gladys Knight was unforgettable at the Essence Music Festival in 2004.
At the end of their journey as one of the most successful female groups in the world, Destiny’s Child gave a hair-raising performance at the 2005 Essence Music Festival.
Essence Music Festival staple Mary J. Blige jams to some of the hottest songs from her catalog of hits in 2007.
Year after year, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly closes out the party with their summer anthem “Before I Let Go.” Here they rock the party at the 2007 main stage.