A Hit – The Essence Music Festival
By Jesse B. Johnson, Jr.
The 2018 Essence Music Festival held at the Mercedes Benz Superdome and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, July 5-8 was a huge hit. More than 500,000 people converged on “The Big Easy.” Essence Music Festival got its start as the 25th anniversary celebration of Essence Magazine held in “Nawlins” on July 4, 1995. Some of the show highlights included Mary J. Blige, B.B. King and Luther Vandross. More than 100,000 attended the first Essence Music Festival.
This year’s lineup was incredible. Some of the major artists that performed were Queen Latifah, Miguel, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Xscape, Ledisi, Brandy, Snoop Dogg, Big Freedia, Doug E. Fresh, D.J. Jubilee, Jussie Smollett, Kirk Franklin, Anthony Hamilton, John P. Kee, Missy Elliott, Fred Hammond and The Clark Sisters. Most were there to see Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Fantasia.
Snoop Dogg, who keeps Long Beach on the map, included many of his past hit rap songs in his performance as well as some new ones. He also got religious by engaging John P. Kee, Fred Hammond and the Clark Sisters. Fantasia had her brother, Xavier Barrino brought on stage as she sung her hit song “Lose to Win.” He was given up on life by doctors after a tragic motorcycle accident. Janet Jackson was the final performer on Sunday. During her amazing performance of such hits as Nasty, Control, That’s the Way Love Goes, Rhythm Nation and many more, she gave a special tribute to her father, Joe Jackson who made his transition on June 27th.
Thanks to Essence for bringing the largest African American music festival to New Orleans which is very apropos. The festivities are just a few miles from “Congo Square.” Congo Square is an open space, now within Louis Armstrong Park, which is located in the Treme neighborhood where slaves and free blacks
gathered throughout the 19th century for meetings, open markets, and the African dance and drumming celebrations that played a substantial role in the development of jazz. I am a native of New Orleans. Our home was just a few hundred feet from this location. “Laisser le bon temps rouler” Let the Good Times Roll!!!