This past weekend I attended the 2013 Essence Music Festival in the resilient, culture-bursting city of New Orleans, LA! The festival brought out thousands of music lovers from all over the country to see spellbinding performances from some of the most captivating Black American artists in the world. We even had a few artists from our own backyard representing for ATL in a major way. I caught shows from artists, Faith Evans, Anthony David, BS2 (Blackstreet), and Avery Sunshine in the various sponsored super lounges. On the main stage of the famous Super Dome I caught a rock star performance from the cover girl, Janelle Monae, who opened for none other than the Queen Bey, herself, Beyonce Knowles Carter!
Blackstreet: This dynamic RnB group started Friday night off right representing for the home team, Atlanta, GA. Teddy Riley with the new line up of the group currently known as BS2 had fans going crazy starting the show with their classic record, “Don’t Leave Me”. The sultry crooners sang their hearts out, and the crowd fell deeper in love, as original group member Dave Hollister took the stage singing, “Before I Let You Go”. The night progressed and the group sang hits, “Joy” which was carried by new member of the group, Lenny Harold, whose high notes left the ladies in awe! The group closed the night out with current iTunes top-10 selling record, “No Diggity,” after teasing the audiences with a fan favorite, “Deep”. These guys still have that special “it factor” that makes women melt, and everybody want to sing along to every record.
Anthony David: With a distinct voice of soul and rasp that puts chill in your spine Mr. David, guitar in hand, commanded the stage in front of his Neo-Soul loving fans. He sang “Spittin Game”, enticing the beautiful women in the room with his poetic lyricism. With gritty vocals pairing exquisitely with the electric notes he played, David commanded the crowd along with his band. Atlanta members of The Recording Academy can catch Anthony David and The Do-Gooders for free at the GRAMMY Member Celebration on July 17, 2013 at the Buckhead Theatre.
Avery Sunshine: Saturday night Avery*Sunshine took to the Coca-Cola Super Lounge stage for her Essence debut. Ms. Sunshine was one of the only artists to play an instrument taking center stage behind her keyboard. The soul singing sensation sang, “I See You When I Get There” and “Ugly Part of Me”, both songs are lifted from her upcoming LP. This new artist demonstrated excellent musicianship as she played, and delivered vocals reminiscent of the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, who also plays piano. Avery was so gracious and genuine after her show greeting every single fan. She even gave a shout out to AMG!
Faith Evans: This Atlanta native had the room packed out from front to back as she started the show with her fiery hit, “Burnin Up!” Dawned in a sexy green mini-dress, the RnB Diva delivered hit after hit including, “You Used to Love Me” and “All Night Long”. Her “Faithfuls”, as she calls her fans, sang along with her the whole night. On her self-penned record, “Soon As I Get Home”, Faith called long time friend, Kelly Price to the stage to give the audience a teasing trip to the rafters with her vocal prowess! Evans backed by three all-male background singers lit up the stage proving that she is still an RnB icon.
Janelle Monae: This iconic musician gave a stellar opening performance for Beyonce’ Knowles on the last night of the festival. She said she was under the weather, but it was hard to tell as she delivered, The Jackson 5’s, “I Want You Back”. If you closed your eyes you could almost picture an adolescent Michael Jackson! She continued her set, with “Cold War”, singing just as passionately about self-identity and breaking the mold, which she continues to do to the current music scene. She closed out her performance with the high energy single, “Tightrope”, with its signature bass line, picked by her stellar bassist, Brandon Gilliard. This Kansas bred, Atlanta fed superstar is slated to release her upcoming album, “Electric Lady,” September 10, 2013.
Scroll down to take a look at my personal photos from the festival!