Essence Fest 2016
by Karen Eckstein-Sarkissian
Essence Magazine focuses on black women. It discusses their concerns and relays their experiences in their voices. Most of those who read it say that it’s their favorite magazine. It also receives the highest rating amongst all women’s magazines. Every Fourth of July weekend, Essence sponsors a festival in New Orleans, LA. It began doing so in 1994, to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary (the magazine, thus, began in 1969). Essence Fest, to which it is usually referred, is the biggest celebration of its kind.
Essence Magazine February 2016 Cover - Nara Shahiti, Teyonah Parris, Johnetta Elzie
Entertainers, speakers, and artists pack Essence Fest and attendees often get to interact with them. There are also seminars, exhibits, and workshops that go over a range of topics, including style and beauty, the environment, relationships, business, and jazz. And, there’s usually something outrageous and something fun, such as “how to flirt.” In addition to all the entertainment, there are inspirational speakers and stimulating conversations about society, empowerment, and culture. Attendees are also encouraged to look and feel their best and dazzle everyone with their nicest clothes and shoes.
,u>Essence Fest 2016 The 22nd annual Essence Fest took place from Thursday, June 30th to Sunday, July 3rd. The star-studded line-up included Kendrick Lamar, Mariah Carey, Estelle, Faith Evans, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Maxwell, New Edition, and the Robert Glasper Experiment, just to name a few. Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, New Edition, and Maxwell opened the festivities. Maxwell paid tribute to Prince with a revised “Nothing Compares 2 U.” He sang, “It’s been seven hours and 69 days since you took your music away.” When he was through, he looked upward, made the sign of the cross, and said, “We love you, Prince.”
Pictured: Maxwell, Essence Festival 2016 Photo: K/D/Morris Photography
Highlights Tina Knowles, businesswoman and fashion designer for her personal brand, House of Dereon and Miss Tina received the first Inspiring Leadership Award. Daughters Beyonce and Kelly Solange Knowles joined her on stage. Ms. Knowles said she had attended every Essence Fest since it started. She added, “…I talk about the Essence Festival all the time and Essence Magazine because at one time, there were not (sic) any other magazines that I could look in and see myself.” Todrick Hall, who appeared on American Idol, season nine, and made it to the semi-finals, spoke at the Empowerment Experience’s “Hour of Power.” Since AI, he’s been very successful, both in the industry and on Broadway. He lives openly gay and is a role model on YouTube, through his series, Greater than Aids, which uses movement to teach about HIV. Todrick spoke about his YouTube series and #endHIV, which spreads awareness about HIV and raises funds to find a cure.
Essence Festival 2016, K/D/Morris Photography
The festival saluted the Grammy-winning Clark Sisters. Formed by their mother, Mattie Moss Clark over forty years ago, sisters Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark-Terrell, Jacky Clark Chisholm, Karen Clark Sheard, and Dorinda Clark-Cole and Karen Clark Sheard were pioneers of gospel music. Mattie Moss Clark was a revolutionary choral director who crafted a three-part harmony that current choirs use and singers incorporate into their style, including Faith Evans. The Minority Business Development Agency joined Essence and developed the Entrepreneurship Village, which supported the first ever Money and Power Expo. Interactive workshops and panels offered meaning and encouragement in the following subjects: • Steps to Starting a Business • Tips to Securing Government Contracts • Pivoting to be a Global Company • Technology and innovation Oprah Winfrey made her initial appearance and issued a powerful keynote speech. After wondering what took her so long to appear at an Essence Fest, she talked about finding purpose and surrendering to the dream. She said, “…I’m not living the dream because I’m special, but I was obedient to the call of the dream…There is a bigger dream for you.” When discussing wishes, she added, “…you don’t get what you wish for, you don’t even get what you hope for. You get what you believe.” And, when going over the importance of energy, she said, “The energy of what you do, what you say and the energy of who you are goes out into the world, your home and into your relationships and that energy is always coming back to you. You’re responsible for the energy you put out into the world.” Puff Daddy, also making his first Essence Fest appearance, closed the festivities. Bad Boy member Mase, Faith Evans, 112, French Montana, Marsha Ambrosius, and Fabolous joined him. Everyone was on their feet and dancing, including security. Over 450,000 attended the event.