ESSENCE, the leading and only 100% Black-owned media, technology and commerce company at scale dedicated to Black women and communities, announces its stellar talent line-up for its 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola—the world’s largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience. Incorporating virtual for the second year in light of the pandemic, this year’s event will live up to its theme of “Live Loud” by featuring exciting content across all of its stages centered around culture, equity and celebration. As the nation continues to reopen, ESSENCE’s exciting and elevated hybrid experience will present a celebration of the resilience, power and achievement of our community and omnipresence of our culture — and a tribute to the city that the Festival has always called home. The star-studded lineup will feature performances by: Jazmine Sullivan, DJ Khaled & Friends, Ne-Yo, Tank, Michelle Williams, Kirk Franklin, Davido and D-Nice. The Festival’s powerful interactive sessions will also showcase leading voices throughout the two weekends including: Mary J. Blige, Angela Yee, Adrienne Bailon, Sarah Jakes Roberts, Tracy G., Tiana Major9, Big Freedia, Miss Lawrence, Supacent, Shantrelle P. Lewis, Jesseca Dupart  and more. The Festival will stream on and—Friday-Sunday over two weekends, June 25-27 and July 2-4.

“The ESSENCE Festival of Culture, now the largest festival in the nation by per day attendance, is an unparalleled convening and celebration of global Black culture and continues to have even deeper impact on our communities via our expanded focus on economic inclusion, cultural ownership and community development,” said Latraviette Smith-Wilson, ESSENCE Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer. “As a live experience, the ESSENCE Festival normally attracts more than 500,000 attendees annually during July 4th weekend in New Orleans — but last year, we made the necessary decision to shift our multi-day celebration to an innovative virtual format due to COVID-19. The ESSENCE Festival was the first of its kind and scale to be executed virtually during the pandemic, and our team worked tirelessly to deliver the content, programming and resources that our community desired. As a result, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture provided much-needed, only-at-ESSENCE content and experiences that inspired, entertained, informed and empowered—resulting in 45+ million full-stream views of 2020 Festival content to date. This year, we are thrilled to bring forth another exciting talent line-up, curated programming and a new hybrid experience that will directly touch the people of New Orleans and Louisiana while also further extending our reach, engagement and impact via enhanced digital, technology and streaming capabilities to connect more of our community in the U.S. and across the diaspora.”

For the 2021 Festival experience and under strict adherence to guidance from local health agencies, ESSENCE will produce live activations available only to New Orleans and Louisiana residents— honoring essential workers and first responders—that will be integrated into the virtual experience during both weekends.

For more information and to register, visit Join the conversation via social @EssenceFest. The ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola® is executive produced by ESSENCE Festivals LLC, a division of ESSENCE Communications Inc. Sponsors of the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture® include presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and major sponsors Estée Lauder, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Walmart as well as premium sponsors AT&T, Disney and UnitedHealthcare.


“New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell bravely recommended yesterday that no large events take place in New Orleans in 2020, and ESSENCE fully supports that decision.  After continued monitoring of the evolving developments in the COVID-19 global pandemic and remaining in close contact and collaboration with our partners in the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, we are confirming today that we will no longer move forward with the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture live experience – and look forward to returning to New Orleans in 2021.


We are excited to now announce that our ‘ESSENCE Benefit Series to Fight COVID-19’ will raise money and provide support for businesses and organizations in Black communities across the country and that our first-ever ESSENCE Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition taking place over July 4th weekend will be included in this effort as a multi-day experience and benefit celebration.  This Festival will be hosted on our new ESSENCE Studios streaming platform, which will extend the experience to communities everywhere providing unfettered access to the power, purpose, and party that has made the ESSENCE Festival the largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience in the world.  Women across the globe and their families will engage in interactive, live opportunities to be inspired, empowered, entertained and transformed as they enter a new economic, spiritual and wellness journey ahead.  The virtual Festival will be a benefit celebration in honor and support of the City of New Orleans, which has been an incredible partner over the Festival’s 26 years and continues to be especially hard hit during this crisis.

From the beginning, we have shared that the health, safety, and well-being of our Festival-goers, local citizens and others who contribute to making the Festival such a unique experience were our top concerns and would be the foremost considerations in our decision-making.  While we initially hoped that a reschedule from our July 2020 dates to later in the fall would be feasible, current information and projections by public health officials and agencies have made it increasingly clear that any large-scale events this year could potentially and unnecessarily put attendees and surrounding communities at risk.  So, what would have typically been a very difficult decision for us was not because people come first, and we will continue to do everything that we can to serve our community during this time.  We will honor all tickets sold for the 2020 Festival in 2021 and will also offer full refunds.  Ticket holders should visit for further information.


‘ESSENCE and the City of New Orleans have a partnership that thrives in good times and is made even stronger in challenging times,” said Mayor Cantrell.  ‘We share an uncompromised commitment to the best interest of our local community and our tourist community, and the priorities right now are providing support to those who have been affected by the disproportionate impact of the pandemic here in New Orleans and ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all.  We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our great city in 2021 for the return of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture and to once again helping to create such an unmatched and magical experience.”


‘We greatly appreciate the Essence family for working with the City of New Orleans and Louisiana as we face this ongoing public health crisis,’ said Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana.  ‘We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Essence family and look forward to continuing the celebration in 2021.’


We continue to understand that in these times, accurate information and critical resources from trusted sources are vital.  So, ESSENCE created the ESSENCE of the Matter: COVID-19’s Impact on Black America digital platform to provide Black women and communities with the tools, information, resources, solutions, inspiration, and empowerment needed to address the multitude of issues arising from this pandemic. ESSENCE Studios will deliver these live virtual experiences and produce the content our community needs as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time together and beyond.  Experiences to date have included our first-ever virtual ESSENCE Wellness Houseä and ESSENCE CARES Act information sessions, with the next – the  ESSENCE & New Voices Entrepreneur Summit – included in our Benefit Series and scheduled for Friday, April 24.  Visit  for more information.  In addition, our editorial team is producing daily content on our dedicated page to educate our community on the coronavirus, its impact, best practices for prevention and how we can not only survive, but thrive, through this time.’



“We know that we are all focused on the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities, and with 16 weeks until the scheduled 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, we wanted to provide an update to our community and partners regarding our plans in light of coronavirus/COVID-19.

Our first priority will always be the safety and well-being of our Festival-goers and everyone who contributes to making the Essence Festival of Culture such an enriching, entertaining and incredible experience, and we will continue to evaluate the situation and use all available resources and intelligence to that end.  We are closely monitoring the unfolding developments and updated information from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health agencies and our partners in the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana. 

Based on the latest information, including increasing public health interventions and measures being implemented domestically and internationally, and the considerable amount of time to assess and respond to developments between now and July, we are planning to proceed with the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture as currently scheduled, July 1-5 in New Orleans.  Still, as a precautionary and proactive measure and with health as the foremost consideration, we are also identifying and securing alternate dates to ensure that we can adjust as quickly and seamlessly as possible in the event that circumstances require.  Should that happen, we will honor all tickets sold for prior scheduled dates.

In the meantime, we are excited to share more about our daytime empowerment programming and our nighttime concert line-up — including headliners Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson — as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ESSENCE and look forward to seeing everyone in July.

‘ESSENCE is a multi-cultural, multi-generational treasure in the City of New Orleans and this year, with the return to Ghana, we’ve come full circle,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans.  ‘However, with the commemoration of our past, we must lean on wisdom and sound judgement to shape our future.  Public health and public safety will always remain top priorities.  As we continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19, know that we are taking every precaution to operate in the best interest of the attendees who make ESSENCE what it is.’

ESSENCE will continue to provide updates to our valued community of Festival-goers and partners regarding any new developments.”


WHAT: The 2019 ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola, the world’s largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience and the largest celebration of global Black culture, will keep the party going into the evening—announcing its official ESSENCE After Dark lineup. Festival-goers will be able to enjoy a culmination of late-night jam sessions, live podcasts and underground performances from Hip-Hop and Bounce to Reggae and Afrobeats – from July 4th-7th following the nightly concerts. Tickets on sale now at!


WHO: Initial performers taking over the late-night scene during ESSENCE After Dark includes an exciting mashup of emerging and established musicians, DJ’s and personalities who represent our diverse, global culture.

**More to be announced soon, including new Comedy experiences.

Thursday, July 4th:

Women in Hip-Hop presented by MC Lyte

Featuring: Yo-Yo, Rapsody, Trina, MuMu Fresh, Music by DJ K Rock and DJ Jermaine

Time: 10PM – 2AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


Friday, July 5th:

Reggae X Afrobeats presented by Estelle

Featuring: Spice, Rotimi, Machel Montano, Wale,  Kranium, Rafiya, Nick & Navi, Music by DJ Max Glazer and DJ Shacia Marley

Time: 10PM – 2AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


The Come Up

Featuring: Danileigh, Nicole Bus, Angelica Vila, Bri Steves, Music by DJ M.O.S.

Time: 10PM- 2 AM

Location: Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


Saturday, July 6th:

Teddy’s Jam

Featuring Guy and Blackstreet, Music by DJ M.O.S.

Time: 10PM – 2 AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


ESSENCE Underground: The Femme Fatales

Featuring: Young Devyn, Dreezy, Young M.A., Music by DJ Niena Drake

Time: 10PM- 2 AM

Location: Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Jesus and Jollof Live with Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji, Music by DJ Niena Drake

Time: Doors at 5:30 PM // Showtime 6:30 PM

Location: Orpheum Theater, 129 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112


Sunday, July 7th:

Beats & Bounce

Featuring: Big Freedia, Soul Rebels and More, Music by Mannie Fresh and DJ Niena Drake

Time: 10PM – 2 AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The Underground Lituation

Featuring: Shawn Smith, Oswin Benjamin, Christian “King” Combs, August Alsina, Music by DJ M.O.S.

Time: 10PM- 2 AM

Location: Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


NOTES: In addition, the 2019 ESSENCE Festival® will feature over 80 performing artists for its nightly concert series, plus a daily line-up of diverse, can’t-miss enrichment and entertainment programming, including the ESSENCE Beauty Carnival, ESSENCE Fashion House, ESSENCE Wellness House, Film and Television Festival, and Global Black Economic Forum, among others. Register now for the many free ESSENCE Festival experiences at

Sponsors for the 25th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival are Coca-Cola, AT&T, McDonald’s, Ford, State Farm, and Walmart.

ESSENCE 25th Anniversary Festival Night-by-Night Performance Line Up Unveiled

The ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola, the world’s largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience and largest celebration of global Black culture, is set to bring the 90’s heat with special performances that celebrate the 25th anniversary of some of the top albums of the decade.  The Festival also just announced the official night-by-night performance line up for its concert series taking place July 5th, 6thand 7th at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

With hits that remain timeless, the 90’s era of R&B and hip-hop music significantly impacted our global culture – setting musical trends and a standard of excellence that made space for artists to thrive as creators, visionaries, and entrepreneurs.  By spotlighting some of the era’s most forward-looking, game-changing albums that are also celebrating their 25th anniversaries, the celebration will reach beyond nostalgia to the new school—with special performances to elevate the groundbreaking sounds that continue to influence the most popular, chart-topping artists of today.

“We are celebrating our 25th anniversary with an extraordinary, multigenerational, cultural celebration featuring nearly 100 Black artists who know that the ESSENCE Festival is ‘home,’” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of ESSENCE Communications.  “Through an imaginative slate of 25th anniversary curations and a fresh take on our night-by-night line-up, this year’s milestone Festival will creatively represent some of our culture’s most important and influential bodies of work – past, present and future. We are excited to place the spotlight on the music that captivated and inspired our global communities—all re-imagined exclusively for the ‘only-at-ESSENCE’ Festival stages.”

Each “25th” set will be curated and performed by the original artists, including Mary J. Blige’s My Life, Nas’ Illmatic, Brandy’s Brandy, Scarface’s Diary, Big Daddy Kane’s Daddy’s Home,

Da Brat’s Funkdafied, Slick Rick’s Behind Bars and Brownstone’s From the Bottom Up.

  • Kicking off Friday night are marquee performances from some of music’s biggest acts including Missy Elliott, RBRM (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike) and more; opening night will also include a 25th anniversary set presented by Doug E. Fresh that will feature Brandy, Ledisi, and Sheila E., MC Lyte, Morris Day, Former Members of New Power Generation, among others.
  • Saturday night is anchored by Mary J. Blige, Nas, H.E.R. and more, with 25th anniversary celebrations by some of the most influential names in hip-hop, including Big Daddy Kane, Scarface, Slick Rick and more.
  • Closing night on Sunday will feature a performance by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly with a special tribute to Frankie Beverly delivered by Anthony Hamilton; Jermaine Dupri’s Atlanta-focused curation with performances by Musiq Soulchild, Da Brat, Lil Jon and Dem Franchize Boyz; Teddy Riley’s Legends of Music curation that includes Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Teyana Taylor, MAJOR., Ro James and more; as well as a NOLA-style bounce performance with Mannie Fresh and Big Freedia.
  • Each night will be hosted by Loni Love and will feature music by DJ D-Nice.

The ESSENCE Festival takes place July 4-7, 2019 in New Orleans, LA. You can view the official night-by-night line up here.   Single night ticket is on sale now.

For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE Festival®visit  Join the festival community: Follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of Festival on Facebook.

The ESSENCE Festival is sponsored by Coca-Cola, AT&T, Ford, State Farm and Walmart.

The ESSENCE Festival is produced by ESSENCE Communications, Inc. FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES: Please e-mail

About ESSENCE Communications Inc. 

ESSENCE Communications is the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 17 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; as well as live events, including Black Women in Music, Black Women in Hollywood, Street Style and the ESSENCE Festival. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, technology-driven company focused on merging content, community, and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.


The ESSENCE Festival®, the world’s largest entertainment and cultural experience, celebrates its 25th anniversary during Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans and unveiled part one of its epic 25th anniversary performance line-up.  The impressive schedule currently features more than 80 of the most talented and creative artists from across the globe.  More acts will be announced in the coming weeks.

The 2019 ESSENCE Festival’s three-night concert series at the Louisiana Superdome includes Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, NAS, H.E.R., Anthony Hamilton, Big Freedia, Davido, Doug E. Fresh, Frankie Beverly, Jermaine Dupri, Ledisi, MC Lyte, Morris Day, Musiq Soulchild, Pharrell Williams, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike (RBRM), Sheila E., Teddy Riley, Teyana Taylor, Timbaland, VanJess and more. Hosted by Loni Love. Music by D-Nice.

Additional performers include 702, AlunaGeorge, ALX, Amanda Black, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Brownstone, Celeste Ntuli, City Girls, El Debarge, Elle Varner, Erica Falls, EU, Force MDs, Ginuwine, Jacquees, Koryn Hawthorne, Lucky Daye, Mase, Nao, Nigel Hall, Normani, Queen Naija, Rakim, Rayvanny, Sauti Sol, Scarface, Talk Box, Tellaman, Vanessa Mdee, Water Seed and more. Plus, a live album recording by PJ Morton with Jojo, Luke James, Mia X, Pell and The Hamiltones.

“When the ESSENCE Festival was founded 25 years ago, it marked a pivotal moment of vision and reverence – a critical acknowledgement of and investment in the power of our culture,” said Michelle Ebanks, Chief Executive Officer of ESSENCE Communications. “In the years since, it has set a standard that many other festivals have aspired to, and today, the ESSENCE Festival has grown to represent an annual homecoming for Black artists from across the globe.  In honor of our 25th anniversary, nearly 30 artists per night over 3 epic nights will come together to mount the world’s largest and most extraordinary cultural celebration. To one and all, we say, ‘Welcome to ESSENCE. Welcome home.’”

Special performance highlights include two seminal albums thematically brought to life, Mary J. Blige’s ‘My Life’ and NAS’ ‘Illmatic’ – each of which are marking 25-year anniversaries in 2019.   ESSENCE will also cultivate a special mainstage moment honoring Frankie Beverly for his lifetime contribution to music.

Weekend ticket packages are on sale now with prices starting at $185. For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE Festival®visit  Join the festival community: Follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of Festival on Facebook.


Essence Communications, the leading media, technology, and commerce company serving Black women announced a record-breaking economic impact of $280 million for its 2018 ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola.  Growth in Festival attendance, which reached more than 510,000, and a boost in tourism spending within the host City and State of New Orleans, Louisiana, garnered the highest fiscal input in the event’s 24-year history.  Nearing 130,000 attendees per day, the ESSENCE Festival is now also the nation’s largest entertainment and cultural event based on average daily attendance, leading events including Coachella, SXSW, New Orleans Jazz and Made in America festivals.

“As one of the world’s largest annual curated content experiences attracting an international audience of more than a half million people over the course of one weekend, the essence Festival packs a proven and powerful economic punch–and continues to reach new heights in collaboration with the State of Louisiana and City of New Orleans,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence Communications. “Working together with our government and enterprise partners, we are pleased to report the highest-ever contribution to the growth and profitability of local businesses and services that help to create an unforgettable experience for our Festival community.”

With the 2018 summer Festival season wrapped, the 4-day Essence Festival has emerged as the leader in size and economic significance among the country’s largest live events and a top destination for tourism during Fourth of July weekend. Through attendee surveys and analysis based on event production, lodging, food & beverage, retail, gaming and transportation spend, the annual economic figure represents a substantial benefit to Louisiana and New Orleans seasonal tourism and shines a spotlight that furthers the legacy of one the nation’s most culturally rich and diverse destinations.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JULY 06: (L-R) Angela Rye, Mary J. Blige, Maxine Waters, Alencia Johnson, Queen Latifah and Remy Ma pose onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 6, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

“This year’s Essence Festival was a great success in terms of attendance and national exposure for New Orleans and Louisiana.  I believe many of the Essence Festival attendees will be returning to our state for years to come,” said Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

“On behalf of the City of New Orleans, I am grateful for our continued partnership with the ESSENCE Festival and proud of the impact that’s been made,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “This year’s Fest generated tremendous economic activity for the City — money that went to our large and small businesses and to the working men and women who make them run. We look forward to another historic year in 2019.”

In addition to the attendance and economic impact, the scale of talent, programming and digital engagement at the ESSENCE Festival is unmatched.  A 2018 Essence Festival by-the-numbers analysis reveals further record-breaking engagement including 100+ performing artists; 200+ influencers, leaders, creators and celebrities; 150+ Marketplace entrepreneurs; and 200+ hours of live content throughout the weekend that generated 5 billion+ media and PR impressions and reached trending status on social media, featuring 103+ million posts, shares and likes and resulting in 14+ billion social media impressions.

“On the eve of the ESSENCE Festival’s 25th anniversary, scheduled for July 4-7, 2019, this summer’s extraordinary gathering underscores the convening power of culture, as well as the continued interest and engagement of Black women globally around community and content that empowers and inspires,” said Ebanks. “We were thrilled this year to be able to introduce new entrepreneurial and business experiences such as our ESSENCE E-Suites and our ESSENCE Marche e-commerce platform. But there’s so much more. As an almost five-decade-old startup, we are excited to move forward not only as a reimagined media and content company but also as a technology and commerce company using 21st-century platforms to provide even more effective solutions to our community of women. We are continually evolving to shape our work to meet their needs with increasing depth and relevance, and this is just the beginning.”

The 2018 ESSENCE Festival was executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC, a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI), and produced by Solomon Group. GeChar was the executive producer of the 2018 ESSENCE Empowerment Experience.

Sponsors of the 2018 ESSENCE Festival included presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and major sponsors AT&TFord, McDonald’s, State Farm and Walmart.

About Essence Communications Inc.
Essence Communications is the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 17 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; as well as live events, including Black Women in MusicBlack Women in HollywoodStreet Style and the ESSENCE Festival.  Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community, and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.


The 2018 ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola® attracted more than 510,0000 attendees to New Orleans this Fourth of July weekend, marking one of the largest gatherings in the event’s 24-year history.   For the first time, all three nights of the ESSENCE Festival concert series at the Louisiana Superdome sold out.  The extraordinary turnout underscores ESSENCE’s engagement of Black women around community, culture, and content – which was brought to life in innovative ways at the annual celebration.

“This extraordinary gathering of nearly half a million attendees–on the eve of the ESSENCE Festival’s 25th anniversary–speaks to the unmatched convening power of our culture,” said Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications.  “As one of the country’s largest curated live experiences, the ESSENCE Festival engages Black women globally—through a truly unique celebration of culture, connection to community and access to content that inspires and empowers.”

The annual 4-day Festival, which took place July 5-8, features entertainment, empowerment, and cultural experiences during the day and a state-of-the-art concert series with the world’s best performers each night to comprise a one-of-a-kind curated content experience:

    • Over 100 performing artists across the Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry including Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Miguel and others performed at the event’s nighttime concerts and dozens of others across ESSENCE’s Center Stage and 10thAnniversary All-Star Gospel Tribute honoring Dottie Peoples.


    • More than 100 influencers, leaders, creators, and celebrities participated in the Festival’s daytime experience – rebranded as ‘Conference & Expos’ with programming across eight tracks spanning Beauty & Style to Business & Entrepreneurship. Powerhouse speakers included Lena Waithe, Lester Holt, and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell as well as favorites Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Iyanla Vanzant, among others.


    • First-time, simultaneous live streams of the daytime experience on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; an ESSENCE Snapchat Live special and millions of #EssenceFest social media posts generating trending status on Twitter.


    • Expanded consumer Expos such as the ‘Beauty Carnival” and ‘Entertainment All-Access’ drew crowds of thousands each day to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.   Elevated VIP events and programs for attendees included the launch of the ‘ESSENCE House’ at the Ace Hotel, as well as the debut of the ‘E-Suite’ with exclusive access to career and business programming.


    • Community give-back and volunteerism at the Festival’s traditional ‘Day of Service’ focused on the theme “Adopt-a-Neighborhood – Central City” to encompass youth center beautification projects, as well as empowerment and entrepreneurship workshops for women & girls.  ESSSENCE ‘Day of Service’ also presented the inaugural Excellence Awards honoring local change-agents in the community.


For a full recap of all the exciting moments from the 2018 ESSENCE Festival, visit and log in to the ESSENCE Festival News Center for photo and footage highlights.  Images of Janet Jackson can be requested via Getty Images.

The 2018 ESSENCE Festival is executive produced by ESSENCE Festivals LLC, a division of ESSENCE Communications Inc. (ECI), and produced by Solomon Group. GeChar is the executive producer of the 2018 ESSENCE Empowerment Experience.

Sponsors of the 2018 ESSENCE Festival include presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and major sponsors AT&TFord, McDonald’s, State Farm and Walmart.

Political Commentator Symone Sanders, Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, Black Girls CODE CEO Kimberly Bryant Among Those to be Honored at 15th Annual McDonald’s 365Black Awards in New Orleans July 8

WHAT: The 15th annual McDonald’s® 365Black® Awards is set to bring everyday heroes and celebrities from across the country to the Ritz Carlton, New Orleans. The dynamic event will take place during ESSENCE Festival® weekend and recognize exceptional leaders who make positive contributions to the African-American community. McDonald’s presence at the Essence Festival affirms the brand’s dedication to celebrating everyday people who are striving to make a positive difference in their communities and move Black culture forward.

2018 Honorees:

Symone Sanders is a champion for women, communities of color and those in need. Sanders is a go-to political commentator, a Spring 2018 Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and the Strategist for Communications and Political Outreach at Priorities USA. Symone rose to prominence during her tenure as the National Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. At 25, Symone demonstrated an uncanny command of the issues earning her a place in history as the youngest presidential press secretary on record and a spot-on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election.

Sheryl Lee Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage. Her award-winning work includes creating the role of Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical, “Dreamgirls” and earning Best Actress nods for Tony and Drama Desk Awards. No stranger to television, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s past TV credits include “It’s a Living,” “Designing Women,” “The District,” and “Moesha.” For the last three years, Sheryl was a lead on the hit Nickelodeon series “Instant Mom”. Ralph is also the creator of the Jamerican Film and Music Festival. Ralph has been one of Hollywood’s biggest voices in the fight on HIV/AIDS for over two decades with her Divas Simply Singing foundation.

HBCU Forward Scholarship award recipient:

Kimberly Bryant is the founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color (ages 7-17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. Bryant enjoyed a successful career in pharmaceutical and biotech industries for more than 20 years. She has helped Black Girls CODE grow from a local initiative to an international organization serving more than 7,000 students. She was named a White House Champion of Change and received a Social Progress award from the Smithsonian Institute for her national work in increasing opportunities for women and girls in technology.

Monique Vann-Brown is the owner of seven McDonald’s franchises in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area and managing partner of her parent’s two Detroit restaurants. Her career began at the age of 14 as a crew member at one of her parent’s McDonald’s locations. She transitioned into the automotive industry at 17 as an engineering intern. After several years in supply chain management, she pursued her dreams of entrepreneurship in the McDonald’s Corporation Registered Applicant & Next Generation Programs. She soon became Co-Chair of the National Black McDonald’s Operator’s Association. This committee produced events designed to serve as a forum for future leaders within the McDonald’s Owner-Operator community.

Tishauna Wilson is a rising junior majoring in computer science at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. She learned how to code in high school where she graduated at the top of her class. Earlier this year, Wilson revived the computer science research program at her university, where she is working on four Artificial Intelligence projects. The research projects consist of detecting fraud through conversations, identifying credit card fraud, as well as developing a voice-activated, self- driving drone and a basketball referee system. Wilson has hopes of pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science, founding an autonomous automotive manufacturing company, developing into a distinguished engineer and researcher and becoming a future CEO of a Fortune 500 technology company.

This year’s McDonald’s 365Black Awards will be hosted by acclaimed actress Essence Atkins. The luncheon will feature an all-star line-up of musical performances by R&B swooner Dave Hollister and gospel heavy-hitter Le’Andria Johnson.

Dressing Yourself For Different Types Of Events: Summer Fashion

You never know when you’ll be faced with the challenge of picking out an outfit for a particular type of event. No matter what you’re up to, it’s important to have a few of the essential wardrobe staples in your closet. This way you’ll always be equipped to dress for any sort of occasion that might pop up.

You always want to be prepared for whatever activities you feel like doing or invitations that may come your way because it’ll make your life easier. Take the time to sort through and organize your closet now so you can effortlessly get dressed when the time comes.

Featured Photo Yara Shahidi MTV Movie Awards

First Date

Every woman needs a nice fitting pair of dark jeans in her closet because they’re so versatile. You can either dress them up or down depending on where you’re going, and no one will even know or care if you wear them twice in one weekend. Own a go-to pair that makes you feel confident no matter what the activity you’re participating in. Go shopping and take your time trying different pairs on until you find the perfect match for your body type. An additional wardrobe staple you should have in your closet is a mix of colorful blousy tops you can pair with your jeans. Don’t be afraid to purchase tops that have stylish patterns and designs in addition to bold solids.

Music Concert

Hop online at Ticket sales and attend a concert or show with your friends in your free time. What you’ll want in your closet is a little black dress you can throw on for this type of occasion. You can turn this one piece of clothing into many outfits by wearing it with a jean jacket, with a large pair of sparkly earrings or plain with a heel that adds a pop of color. A little black dress is one staple you definitely want to make sure you secure because you’ll be getting a lot of use out of in the future. This is also a chance for you to play with your makeup and use unique shades you normally wouldn’t wear from day-to-day.

Backyard BBQ

You never know when you’re going to be asked to join your friends or family for an outdoor BBQ, especially in the summertime when it’s nice and warm outside. Invest in a pair or two of solid colored or black shorts and wear them with your favorite tank top. You can also spruce up your outfit a bit by buying a pair of strappy sandals that add style to your feet. Bring a cardigan sweater along should the temperature drop and you want to cover up.


The weekend is an opportunity for you to unwind and have fun celebrating the marriage between two people you adore. You’re going to have a more enjoyable time attending this type of event when you know you look good. Find a dress that’s classy and flattering and that you can easily move around in. Complete your outfit by accessorizing and layering to help spruce up dull or plainer garments and bring all that you’re wearing together nicely. For example, grab an attractive handbag on your way out the door or put on a statement necklace that catches people’s attention.


Your life is going to be that much more fun and pleasant when you’re prepared for any occasion. Start cleaning out your closet now and filling it with these pieces to help you always feel confident and stylish. You’ll thank yourself later for being prepared to get ready and not having to think too hard about what you’re doing.

Collaborative Post