This year may go down in history as the biggest Essence Festival to happen ever, simply based on all the star powered names confirmed to attend. For starters, first time Essence Festival participant Oprah Winfrey was in attendance on Saturday joining Selma director Ava Duvernay, and T.D. Jakes at the Marriott Convention Center. The main attraction has been the nighttime concert series at the Mercedez Benz Super Dome, featuring amazing performances we loved by Mariah Carey, Bad Boy & Family, New Edition, Maxwell, Faith Evans, Tyrese, Jeremiah, Kendrick Lamar, Avery Wilson, Ciara and Audra Day.
Tyrese ended up being a no-show on Friday night due to his filming schedule. He definitely made up for it on Saturday on the Coca Cola stage at the convention center, gaining the attention of the over a 10K count audience. It was a sight to see. Tyrese has so much love for him in New Orleans.
There were so many amazing things taking place this year that simply were unheard of in the past. For starters, Coca Cola has announced it’s latest campaign “Share a Coke and a song.” This will be the first time 75 songs will have lyrics available through the bar code on the can. This was Diddy’s first Essence Festival performance. It was also the first time Oprah’s guest appearance for Iyanla Vanzant turned into her being the main speaker due to an accident where Vanzant couldn’t make it.
Singer Audra Day has been named ambassador for the Coca Cola brand and her face will appear on over 40 million Coca Cola cans. Day and Will Packer were special guests at the press conference, which kicked off the festival and both paid homage to the Essence Festival as the annual event that made a special life changing impact on their lives. Day thanked the Essence Festival for giving her a chance to perform in one of their super lounges only one year ago, and believing in her and her music prior to her album coming out.
Will Packer shared a story about how he met his “now wife” at the Essence Festival, which happened to be the same place he proposed to her just two years ago; and now he is beginning production on his new film “Girl Trip ” starring Queen Latifah, and Regina Hall during the Essence Festival and it’s already scheduled to be released in July 2017 (during the Essence Festival, is my prediction).
In addition to Will Packer and Audra Day’s testimonials, a representative from each sponsor (Walmart, Ford, Verizon, Coca Cola, State Farm and McDonald’s) spoke about the events they had taking place at the Marriott Convention Center. Public officials for the City of New Orleans were in attendance and gave special recognition and thanks to all the sponsors (some going on 6 years) who continuously have supported this festival, making it possible to become bigger and better each year. We can’t go without mentioning the wonderful job Sheila Eldrige, Miles Ahead Entertainment and her team did coordinating national media outlets from all over the world, ensuring superb coverage of the sponsored events.
If you didn’t plan to attend the Essence Festival this year, it’s time for you to make preparations for 2017.