Music, Art, Culture: Previewing Essence Festival 2018

09:50 June 29, 2018
By: Kimmie Tubré

After grabbing its spot on the festival season train, the Essence Festival has arrived.

For more than 20 years, Essence Fest has graced the city of New Orleans, bringing a cool breath of fresh air during one of the hottest months of the year, and serving up some of the best music, art, and culture around. Every year, Essence has a star-studded lineup of musicians and actors, as well as celebrities simply here to enjoy the festivities. 

<em>Music, Art, Culture:</em> Previewing Essence Festival 2018

The 2018 Essence Fest is four days long and will include artists such as Janet Jackson, The Roots, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, and Erykah Badu, along with festival regular Mary J Blige and many more. While many artists are in such high demand that they return for their Essence fans each year, there are so many other artists new and old to see.

Here’s a list of some of our 2018 faves:


<em>Music, Art, Culture:</em> Previewing Essence Festival 2018

Janet Jackson (Mainstage, Sunday)

Without a doubt, this year’s biggest star to see is the one and only Ms. Jackson.

With the 2018 Billboard Music Icon Award under her belt, it’s no secret that Janet Jackson, “Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty,” is one of the most anticipated artists featured at this year’s Essence Festival. While Janet performed at the New Orleans Arena during her 2015 world tour, the tour was short-lived due to her pregnancy, leaving many of her fans disappointed. After viewing her recent performance, it is clear that Janet is back in full swing. For sure, the “Pleasure Principle” singer is ready to hit the stage.

R&B and Soul

<em>Music, Art, Culture:</em> Previewing Essence Festival 2018

Miguel (Mainstage, Friday)

Eccentric, creative, and soulful, Miguel is a chart-topping, Grammy-nominated artist who knows how to make personal music that sells. Jumping on the scene with hits like “Sure Thing,” Miguel never shied away from simply being himself.

H.E.R. (Superlounge, Friday)

The breakout star, who’s known for covering her face, came on the scene in 2016, releasing her debut album H.E.R. Vol. 1. Now with a hit song titled “Focus,” H.E.R. has been a regular on the festival circuit for the past year. 

Jussie Smollett (Superlounge, Saturday)

Known for his role as Jamal Lyon on the award-winning show Empire, the singer/actor/activist created Billboard Chart-topping hits that led to the release of his anticipated 2018 album, Sum of My Music.

Fantasia (Mainstage, Sunday)

The American Idol star stole our hearts, creating songs about heartbreak and self-empowerment with her unique sound. Four albums and a plethora of Grammys later, Fantasia still knows how to set a stage on fire. 

Hip Hop

<em>Music, Art, Culture:</em> Previewing Essence Festival 2018

Snoop Dogg (Mainstage, Friday) 

With his unmistakable voice and smooth lyrical melodies, Snoop came to the scene with much controversy, yet ended up becoming somewhat of the Uncle of Hip Hop. An icon in his own right, Snoop is an award-winning, multiple Grammy-nominated artist who not only delves into a multitude of genres, but also delivers.

Big Freedia (Superlounge, Sunday)

From Fuse TV to tracks recorded with Beyoncé and Drake, New Orleans’s very own Big Freedia has made a real name for herself, and is now set to hit the Superlounge stage with a highly energetic, booty-bouncing performance. Recently releasing the hit song “Rent,” Freedia is also known for classics like “Gin in My System” and “Azz Everywhere.” 

Queen Latifah (Mainstage, Saturday)

Before this queen was the phenomenal actor she is today, she was a rhyming rap-tress from Newark, New Jersey. Delighting her fans with lyrical hits such as “U.N.I.T.Y” and “Ladies First,” Queen Latifah created feministic hits that defied the norms of the time.    


Wreckx-N-Effect (Mainstage, Sunday)

Famously known for their hit song “Rump Shaker,” Wreckx-N-Effect faced a tumultuous rise to fame, tragically losing two of their members along the way. As a duo, the group went on to create a chart-topping album with a single that has become a timeless hit.

SWV (Mainstage, Sunday) 

When it comes to soul music, Sisters With Voices (SWV) came to the music world creating love songs and heartbreak anthems that people are still singing today. Whether you’re “weak in the knees” or have love raining down on you, SWV has a song for us all.

Can’t Miss It

<em>Music, Art, Culture:</em> Previewing Essence Festival 2018

The Roots, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott (Mainstage, Friday)

Backed by The Roots’s iconic hip-hop and instrumental stylings, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu will hit the stage for a Friday-night Essence Fest performance like none other. While this isn’t the first time these musical geniuses have hit the stage together, it will still be nothing short of an iconic performance. Erykah and Jill are both Grammy Award-winning soul singers with strong, outstanding, and unique voices. The Roots, also Grammy Award-winning artists, are known for bringing jazzy, electric-funky music with an occasional rhythmically lyrical flare. The Roots are also modernly known as the house band of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

There it is. Essence Festival continues to bring amazing musicians to the night shows each year. But the festival is more than the concerts. Throughout the day, you can visit the Convention Center, where you’ll find several vendors of health care, beauty, retail, food, and arts. The festival is also famous for its variety of seminars, including speakers such as Angela Rye, Iyanla Vanzant, Vivica Fox, and many more. 

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