This year's annual Essence Festival has a solid lineup ready for all R&B and hip hop lovers. Never short on being musically star-studded, the list of headlining acts includes Mariah Carey, Maxwell, Kendrick Lamar and Puff Daddy to name a few. In addition to the Mainstage, attendees can also enjoy music from the Superlounges, which will include Estelle, Lalah Hathaway, Eric Bellinger and more. Nephew Tommy of The Steve Harvey Morning Show will resume his hosting duties on the Mainstage.
Here's what those in attendance should know prior to arriving at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:
June 30 will play host to workshops and panel discussions, which will be free to the public. However, the three-day festival doesn't kick off until Friday July 1 and runs through July 3. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster for as low as $55 dollars. Three-day package plans are also available for purchase as opposed to single day tickets.
Speaking engagements are a part of the free events for the public during the daytime events. Speakers to watch out for include Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams, Fix My Life host Iyanla Vanzant, activist Rev. Al Sharpton, beauty mogul Tyra Banks, American Ballet Theater principal lead Misty Copeland, and more. Those interested in tips for success and career-related ventures are encouraged to attend. Cookie Johnson, Kierra Sheard, Patina Miller and The Clark Sisters will round out the list of guest speakers.
The Essence Festival is also known for celebrating and showcasing African American artists, entrepreneurs, culinary chefs and craftsmen luring the attention of tourists. Vendors will be set up in various locations at the Superdome. Expect to see quality merchandise along with delicious delicacies.
The musical line-up will range from legendary artists to today’s chart toppers. Check out these Top 10 recommended acts:
Mariah Carey is known for her gifted vocals, whistle register and little classy shade when it comes to the media. With decades of hits, fans can look forward to classics like “Fantasy”, “We Belong Together” and more.
Maxwell will be fresh off his performance at this year’s Jazz Fest. Producing charting hits like “This Woman’s Work” and “Pretty Wings”, this smooth R&B crooner will have the ladies continuing to swoon this year.
New Edition will always hold a heart for the 80s and 90s babies who grew up reciting the words to “Cool It Now” and “Candy Rain”. The Boston-originated group is no stranger to the Mainstage, having performed there a few times before. They were last spotted at the Essence Festival in 2013 alongside then headliner Beyoncé.
Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds is not only a hit producer and writer, but has given his musical talents to some of today’s biggest artists such as Toni Braxton, Brandy, Boyz II Men, the late Michael Jackson and Ariana Grande. His years of hits with some of the biggest songs will always make him one not to be missed.
Faith Evans is what many consider a quiet jewel in the music industry. With signature hits such as “Soon As I Get Home”, “Can’t Nobody”, and “Love Like This”, Evans voice alone will always be worth listening to for established fans and new ones. She may be the widow to late rapper Biggie Smalls, but the soul Evans gives in her songs is timeless.
Common and Kendrick Lamar will lead this year’s festival for mainstream rap artists. What’s good about this is that both rappers have a music catalogue that forces fans and listeners to think, become socially and consciously aware, and still able to provide feel-good cuts along the way.
Ciara may not be selling as much as she did upon her debut, but it’s no denying that she can put on a good show and is still amid today’s top live performing acts. The “Goodies” singer doesn’t disappoint live, so fans should look forward to a solid performance with sleek dance moves.
Protégé of super producer Timbaland, rapper and singer Tink will be one to watch. The “Treat Me Like Somebody” songstress will join the festival for the first time. She is slated to have her debut album Think Tink see its release some time this year via Epic Records.
Eric Bellinger will be a part of the Superlounges during the festival. However, the Grammy Award-winning songwriter has made consistently great mixtapes to his debut album in 2014 titled The Rebirth. Having worked alongside pop forces like Trey Songz and Chris Brown, look forward to hearing good vocals and trendy lyrics that easily compete in today’s market of male R&B singers.
V.Bozeman (Veronika Bozeman) of Fox’s “Empire” fame showed fans that she had the vocal chops to capture the attention of millions while singing “What is Love” during the pilot of the show. Like Tink, she will also share the stage with her label mate for the first time this year.
While this list names only a few, music lovers can still look forward to favorites such as Charlie Wilson, Puff Daddy, Lalah Hathaway, Andra Day, Daley, Dej Loaf, MC Lyte, Jeremih, Wiz Kid and more.