[Courtesy of Getty Images for Essence]

Best Moments of the 30th Essence Festival of Culture

12:00 July 09, 2024
By: Kimmie Tubré

A Fest to Remember

Just like that, the Essence Festival of Culture has wrapped up another star-studded weekend in New Orleans. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Essence 2024 was brimming with unique and unexpected surprises as people filled the city, from the streets of Downtown to the daytime events at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the nighttime concerts at the Caesars Superdome.

This year's celebration of Black culture was filled with several memorable moments. In case you missed it, here are the top highlights that defined the 30th Essence Festival of Culture.

The Cash Money Take Over

[Courtesy of Getty Images for Essence]

Although initially advertised as a reunion, this show turned out to be more of a Cash Money and Friends event. Many anticipated seeing all four members of the legendary Hot Boys group perform together. Despite things not unfolding as expected, they still delivered a solid performance that rocked the Superdome.

Former Hot Boys members B.G. and Juvenile took the stage, performing a mix of Hot Boy classics and their solo hits. Birdman "Baby" and Manny Fresh also performed, showcasing some hits from their Big Tymers era while also joining the Hot Boys to fill in for missing members Turk and Lil Wayne.

Though not part of Cash Money Records, several other legendary hip-hop artists graced the stage and delivered their classic hits, including The Lox, Scarface, Bun B, and 2 Chainz.

Just when fans thought the show was over, Lil Wayne surprised everyone by hopping on stage, delighting his numerous fans with a performance of music from his label Young Money.

Surprise Pop Up From Vice President Kamala Harris

[Image by Gustavo Escanelle/Where Y'at]

While the current vice president of the United States was already set to hit the Convention Center Stage Saturday afternoon, she decided to surprise the audience during the Friday evening show at the Superdome, expressing her excitement for this year's 30th anniversary and her eagerness to see everyone at her panel with Essence Ventures CEO and President Caroline Wanga.

During the panel on Saturday in the Convention Center, Vice President Kamala Harris engaged in a candid "Chief to Chief" conversation with Wanga at the Global Black Economic Forum HQ Experience stage. Wanga highlighted Essence's 50-year legacy of empowering Black women. With less than 122 days until the next presidential election, Harris encouraged attendees of the Essence Festival to enter rooms with confidence—shoulders back and chin up.

Charlie Wilson Gave Us Soul While Usher Closed the House Down

[Courtesy of Getty Images for Essence]

Saturday night might have been the most anticipated evening Essence Festival has seen in a while, and it was all due to one legendary superstar, Grammy Award-winning singer Usher.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of his record-breaking album Confessions, Usher took the stage for a one-night-only performance of the album, mixing in some of his other hit records as well.

The night also featured legendary R&B artist Charlie Wilson, marking his eighth appearance at Essence Festival.

Additionally, D-Nice's Club Quarantine Live presented a special showcase of hip hop, Latin jazz, funk, R&B, and soca icons, including Method Man, Sheila E, Big Boi, Donell Jones, Tweet, Machel Montano, Lloyd, and the highly anticipated reunion of R&B supergroup TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank).

Tank and The Bangas Bring New Orleans Culture to the Stage

[Courtesy of Getty Images for Essence]

New Orleans' own Tank and the Bangas hit the Superdome main stage Sunday night to give a tribute like none other to the rich culture of New Orleans. Performing their eclectic hits for the masses, they also brought out some local favorites, including the soulful Teedra Moses, Dawn Richard, and bounce phenomenon HaSizzle.

Janet Jackson Did it Again

Janet Jackson did not disappoint as she hit the stage for the fourth time at Essence. The legendary artist electrified the crowd with a phenomenal performance, delivering a captivating set with a catalog of her greatest hits and fan favorites.

Sunday night, Ms. Jackson demonstrated why she remains an icon in the music industry. Her presence added a touch of unparalleled glamour and energy to the festival, leaving the audience in awe and marking yet another memorable moment in the festival's storied history.

Frankie Beverly Gets the Flower That He Deserves

[Courtesy of Getty Images for Essence]

Frankie Beverly and Maze have been integral to Essence Festival since its inception. For the first 15 years as the Sunday night closer, they graced the stage in their signature all-white attire, performing their timeless hits.

With Essence Festival celebrating its 30th anniversary, it was a perfect time for a farewell performance, providing the ideal moment to honor their enduring impact beyond their iconic style and music.

Curated by Bryan-Michael Cox, a heartfelt tribute unfolded on the final night of Essence Festival. The stage came alive with performances of some of Frankie Beverly and Maze's classic hits, as artists including Anthony Hamilton, Luke James, and Maze's new lead singer, 11-time Grammy-winner Tony Lindsay, joined in celebrating Beverly's legacy.

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