For over 25 years New Orleans has hosted the Essence Music Festival, an annual celebration of the vital and vibrant African-American cultural traditions at play in the city. This year, the organizers have pulled out all the stops, putting together a lineup that boasts some of the biggest stars from R&B, hip hop, comedy, and beyond. Take a look at the highlights below, and don’t miss these superstars in action when they hit the Superdome for this 4th of July spectacular.
The bayou has always been a hotbed of world-class R&B, and this year the genre’s biggest stars are bringing their love back to the Crescent City. Familiar faces like Mary J. Blige, Usher, and Charlie Wilson will be there to perform your favorite contemporary R&B hits. In addition to the veterans, fans will also get to see fresh-faced artists like Nico & Vinz, whose hit “Am I Wrong” is still shaking up the charts.
— Essence Magazine (@essencemag) June 2, 2015
If you prefer your soul stylings with a sophisticated hip hop bent, the 2015 Essence Festival offers celebrated neo soul superstars like Erykah Badu and Bilal. Cutting edge artists like the hip hop/doo-wop phenom Andra Day and the jazz-inspired, Grammy Award-winning Esperanza Spalding will also be on hand to keep things fresh.
— Essence Magazine (@essencemag) April 8, 2015
Up-and-coming MCs Lecrae, Wale, and Kendrick Lamar (making his first Essence Festival appearance) are sure to get heads bobbing with their slick productions and banging beats. But if you get down to a slightly more old school groove, you can “Get Ur Freak On” with the First Lady of Hip Hop Missy Elliot.
— ESSENCE Festival (@essencefest) May 30, 2015
The Essence Fest isn’t just all about music—you’ll also see some of the funniest comedians in the game deliver their hilarious stand-up. With Kevin Hart making a special stop to kick off the festivities, you’ll get some serious laughs to go with the serious jams provided by all the musical talent. And Nephew Tommy from The Steve Harvey Morning Show is back to host the mainstage and keep things outrageous between performers.
— ESSENCE Festival (@essencefest) June 6, 2015
Thursday, July 2 –
Mainstage: Kevin Hart’s What Now? Tour, Trey Songz, and Lecrae.
Friday, July 3 –
Mainstage: Charlie Wilson, India.Arie, Kem, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
Superlounges: Nico & Vinz, Adrian Marcel, Avery*Sunshine, Doug E. Fresh, Goapele, Kelly Price, Kindred the Family Soul, Luenell, and Slick Rick.
Saturday, July 4 –
Mainstage: Usher, Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu, Common, and Beenie Man & The Zagga Zow Band.
Superlounges: Wale, Bilal, Elle Varner, Esperanza Spalding Presents: Emily’s D+Evolution, Kool Moe Dee, Mali Music, Mystikal, Raheem DeVaughn, Sevyn Streeter, Tank and The Bangas, and Tonya Boyd-Cannon.
Sunday, July 5 –
Mainstage: Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, and Floetry.
Superlounges: Andra Day, Dee 1, Dumpstaphunk, Eric Roberson, Jeff Bradshaw, Lianne La Havas, Mase, Robert Glasper, SZA, Teedra Moses and Tweet.
What fans had to say about Essence Festival 2014:
“I had the absolute time of my life at ESSENCE 2014! My birthday is July 4th, so this one definitely goes down in the books as one of the BEST! I am the ultimate Prince fan and he gave an outstanding concert along with the other artists. I won tickets while at the festival day events to see Charlie Wilson—it was almost too good to be true, but it was! I am an Essence Festival fan for LIFE! Can’t wait to return!” – exclusive1
“I may never see Prince in person again! I loved each moment of partying with him. the festival is just one of those annual events that everybody should go to at least once in their life. It will tire you out with all the day parties, night parties, meet and greets with celebrities, seminars, I mean so much stuff! I hope this event has many more years to come. they were giving away cars and 1000’s of dollars worth of gift cards. I mean it was just exciting.” – BlackDiamondstar
“This was my first time attending the Essence Festival and it beyond met my expectations. Prince was AMAZING!!! All the performances were great and I can only hope to be able to attend again. I must mention that having it in New Orleans is a great asset.” – DancingHeart74