ESSENCE, the leading media, technology, and commerce company serving Black women and communities, today announced its 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience Presented by Coca-Cola. For the first time in the Festival’s 26-year history, the much-anticipated celebration – which annually draws more than 500,000 attendees and contributes almost $300 million in economic impact over July 4th weekend in New Orleans – will be produced as a fully virtual experience spanning two weekends of programming that entertain, empower, inspire, educate and mobilize. Taking place on June 25-28 and July 2-5 (Thursdays-Sundays) and streaming on ESSENCE Studios, the multi-day experience will extend to a global audience of viewers and feature virtual performances, summits, panels, and more including leading musical artists, influencers and experts from around the world. ESSENCE’s #BlackVotesMatter365 voting hub will also be a core element of the virtual Festival including quick access to helpful resources for Black women and communities to amplify their voices in local and national elections through voting. The Festival will also include a benefit initiative to raise funds to support the critical needs and sustainability of Black and Brown entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses, and organizations focused on racial equity across the U.S. For an up-to-date artist lineup and schedule, click here.
“Due to COVID-19, this was certainly not the year we planned for the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, but challenging times call for innovative measures,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder & chair, Essence Ventures (parent company of ESSENCE). “As we began to see the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our community, it became more important to us than ever to still create a Festival experience that delivered the community, love, laughter, fun, and empowerment that the Festival is known for—and to leave our audience feeling inspired and uplifted, especially during these times. “For 50 years, it has been ESSENCE’s mission to provide content that our community needs – when they need it, and we are thrilled that ESSENCE Studios has been the perfect platform to deliver our offline experiences, such as Festival, for the first time ever virtually. We are also appreciative of our partners for their support and vision as we continue to navigate this time together and provide quality programming, a stellar lineup of musical talent, leading experts and thought leaders, and the epicenter of global Black culture that the only ESSENCE can.”
The 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture will feature a global ensemble of performers, including Amanda Black, Andra Day, Bell Biv Devoe (“BBD”), Bruno Mars, Burna Boy, Common, D-Nice, Damian Marley, Diamond Platnumz, Doug E. Fresh, Elephant Man, Estelle, India. Arie, John Legend, Ledisi, NAS, Patti LaBelle, Raphael Saadiq, Rapsody, Sauti Sol, Shaggy, Swizz Beatz, and more, hosted by Loni Love. Leading a special tribute to the city of New Orleans will be Mayor LaToya Cantrell, PJ Morton, Big Freedia, Irma Thomas, Tank and The Bangas, and Big 6 Brass Band. Also, featured in the popular Sunday gospel Get Lifted celebration are Anita Wilson, Bri Babineaux, Erica Campbell, Fred Hammond, Greater Sound of Greater St. Stephen FGBC, Jonathan McReynolds, Kierra Sheard, Kirk Franklin, Koryn Hawthorne, Marvin Sapp, Tamela Mann, The Clark Sisters, The Walls Group, Tye Tribbett, and more, along with Sunday sermons from Bishop Paul S. Morton and Bishop T.D. Jakes.
Other culture-leaders and influencers raising their voices to speak include Steph and Ayesha Curry; Rev. Al Sharpton; Ryan Michelle Bathe; Don Lemon; New Orleans, LA, Mayor LaToya Cantrell; Atlanta, GA, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Chicago, IL, Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser; Ferguson, MO, Mayor-Elect Ella Jones; San Francisco, CA, Mayor London Breed; Tamika Mallory; Lori Harvey; Teyana Taylor; Iman Shumpert; Ryan Destiny; Kirk and Tammy Franklin; Lexi Underwood; Egypt Sherrod; Lena Waithe; Lisa Nichols; Marc Morial; Master P; Naomi Campbell; Nia Long; Shaun T.; Tabitha Brown and more.
With an impressive slate of talent, the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture will deliver diverse programming within the following daily overviews:
- ESSENCE Wellness House [5 PM-9 PM (ET)]: Kickstart your path to recovery with meditation, conversations, workouts, and tutorials designed to boost your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial wellbeing.
- ESSENCE Beauty Carnival [5 PM-9 PM (ET)]: Step inside a virtual beauty sphere with top brands, makeup artists, hairstylists, skincare experts, and more! Stream live tutorials and get expert tips for accentuating your own flawless beauty with products and brands that are making a splash across the globe.
- ESSENCE After Dark [9 PM-10 PM (ET)]: Tune in for music brought to you by your favorite stars.
- Wealth & Power [2 PM-6 PM (ET)]: Get the tools you need to invest in yourself and make strides in entrepreneurship, career, and personal finance. Plus, get the latest on the 2020 candidates, the issues that matter most…and why your voice counts!
- Entertainment All-Access [6 PM-7 PM (ET)]: Catch your Hollywood favorites in Q&As and be the first to see exclusive sneak peeks of the hottest upcoming releases.
- Evening Concert Series [7 PM-10 PM (ET)]: Our explosive evening concert series goes digital! Catch the #ESSENCEFest all-star lineup in performances to benefit and celebrate our Essential Heroes, Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
- Get Lifted Gospel Sunday Celebration [11 AM-1 PM (ET)]: Tune in for Sunday worship featuring powerful words of praise and legendary Gospel performances.
In addition, as the fight against COVID-19 rages on in states across the country, many essential workers continue to be on the frontlines helping to ensure the nation’s health, safety, and essential needs are met. ESSENCE is honoring these workers with its first-ever ESSENCE Essential Heroes Awards program. This three-part, the year-long franchise will highlight those who, despite systematic disparities, have risen to become Essential Heroes in their communities during this pandemic. A ceremony recognizing the 50 ESSENCE Essential Heroes honorees will be streamed live via ESSENCE Studios during the virtual Festival experience on Saturday, July 4th.
The 2020 ESSENCE Festival is presented by Coca-Cola. Major sponsors include Ford, McDonald’s, Walmart, My Black is Beautiful, P&G.
For more information and to register, visit www.essencefestival.com. Join the conversation via social @EssenceFest.
*Artists and schedules are subject to change.
ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC.
Essence Communications, Inc. is the number one media, technology, and commerce company dedicated to Black women and communities and inspires a global audience of more than 31 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; and live events, including Black Women in Music™, Black Women in Hollywood™, Beauty Carnival™ and the ESSENCE Festival of Culture™. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, consumer technology company merging content, community, and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.
ABOUT THE ESSENCE FESTIVAL OF CULTURE
The ESSENCE Festival of Culture is the world’s largest cultural, music, entertainment, and empowerment experience and the global epicenter of Black culture. As a platform to advance global Black culture, economic ownership and inclusion, and community development, it has contributed more than $4 billion to the local New Orleans economy since its inception. It has also created a home for Black communities around the world and routinely attracts more than half a million international attendees over July 4th weekend. In 2019, the Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary–and annually contributes almost $300 million in economic impact to the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.