Party With A Purpose: 5 Things To Get Excited For At ESSENCE Fest 2019

Missy Elliott 

Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Something in the Water


Party With A Purpose: 5 Things To Get Excited For At ESSENCE Fest 2019

Check out the five events we're looking forward to at ESSENCE Fest's 25th Anniversary weekend

GRAMMYs/Jul 4, 2019 - 08:34 pm

The 25th annual Party With a Purpose is upon us: ESSENCE Fest 2019.

From Friday, July 5 through Sunday, July 7, New Orleans' Mercedes Benz Superdome will once again become the hub where black culture is celebrated through music, food, and entertainment as well as uplifted through leadership events and more.

This year, the three-day festival is sure to be that much more spectacular as it celebrates a quarter century of moving black culture forward. And there could be no other way to do than what the fest has in store: Check out five major events happening at Essence 2019 that we can't wait to experience. 

Michelle Obama Will Be In The House 

What's the biggest indicator that this party will be like no other? Former First Lady Michelle Obama is invited! 

She stole the show earlier this year at the 61st GRAMMY Awards, and we can only expect that she'll do the same at the Superdome. Along with TV titan and journalist Gayle King, Obama will be a part of a special keynote conversation hosted by comedian Loni Love on the mainstage Saturday, July 6. 

"It will be my first time hosting the main stage and @MichelleObama ‘s first time attending @essencefest ... Saturday July 6th join us in #neworleans!!" Love tweeted

And she won't be the only familiar face from the political world Saturday; Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have been added to the speaker lineup at the Power Stage Keynote.

Main Stage Music: Missy Elliott & More

There's nothing like the ESSENCE concert series. This year, Essence welcomes headliners and hip-hop and R&B legends Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Big Freedia, Teyana Taylor, Timbaland, Ledisi and H.E.R to the main stage. 

This year, Elliott celebrates the 20th anniversary of the GRAMMY-nominated Best Rap Album Da Real World and was inducted in the Songwriters Hall Of Fame last month. 

The rapper took to Twitter to tease her performance at Essence:

The Superlounges

BJ The Chicago Kid, Ginuwine, City Girls, Lucky Daye, PJ Morton, Luke James, Mase and JoJo are among some of the artists to perform at the festival's Superlounges, which will give fans an opportunity to see their favorite artists in a more intimate setting. The Playlist, Golden Era, Hot Right Now lounges and more will honor different genres and movements. 

Food Experiences With Big Freedia & More

NOLA icon Big Freedia won't just be performing, she'll also be a part of one of the many food events the fest has lined up for attendants. The Southern city is known for its culinary richness and you won't have to leave the Superdome to taste and learn from some of the most recognized chefs. Among the many food evets, fans can learn to remix dinner classics and create other yummy treats with special guests Big Freedia, Chefs Kenneth Temple, Ashley Jonique, Melissan Hinton and more. 

Through ESSENCE's Passport25, the fest will also give event goers access to perks some of the finest black-owned restuarants in the city. 

Afterdark Series

The party doesn't end when the last performer steps offstage. Essence's Afterdark Series are concerts and events at Republic NOLA, Howlin' Wolf and the Orpheum Theater bringing intimate groups of artists together for performances. From Women In Hip Hop, ESSENCE Underground to Beats & Bounce and Reggae X Afrobeats with acts like Estelle, Young M.A., Trina, Rhapsody, DJ Jermaine, Blackstreet, and more, you can expect even more exlusive access to local music and beyond. 

Meet Ericka Coulter, The Inspirational Music Exec Amplifying Rising Talent With TheBasement

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More



Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

Mumu Fresh On What She Learned From Working With The Roots, Rhyming & More

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Will Smith Dedicate His 1999 Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY To His Son

Will Smith at the 1999 GRAMMYs


GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Will Smith Dedicate His 1999 Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY To His Son

In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith"

GRAMMYs/Sep 25, 2020 - 11:17 pm

Today, Sept. 25, we celebrate the birthday of the coolest dad—who else? Will Smith! For the latest episode of GRAMMY Rewind, we revisit the Fresh Prince's 1999 GRAMMY win for Best Rap Solo Performance for "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."

In the below video, watch rappers Missy Elliott—donning white leather—and Foxy Brown present the GRAMMY to a stoked Smith, who also opted for an all-leather look. In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith." He dedicates the award to his eldest son, Trey Smith, joking that Trey's teacher said he (then just six years old) could improve his rhyming skills.

Watch Another GRAMMY Rewind: Ludacris Dedicates Best Rap Album Win To His Dad At The 2007 GRAMMYs

The classic '90s track is from his 1997 debut studio album, Big Willie Style, which also features "Miami" and 1998 GRAMMY winner "Men In Black," from the film of the same name. The "Está Rico" rapper has won four GRAMMYs to date, earning his first back in 1989 GRAMMYs for "Parents Just Don't Understand," when he was 20 years old.

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, J. Lo & Jada Pinkett Smith Open The 2019 GRAMMYs Exclusive First Listen: Ashthon Jones
Ashthon Jones

news Exclusive First Listen: Ashthon Jones

Former "American Idol" contestant debuts "Good Living" from forthcoming Songs For A Healthier America album only on

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

R&B vocalist and former "American Idol" contestant Ashthon Jones will appear as a guest artist on Songs For A Healthier America, a compilation of health-focused songs set for release on Sept. 30. Ahead of the album's release, has your exclusive first listen to Jones' contribution, "Good Living."

Drawing on influences from the likes of GRAMMY winners Mary J. Blige, the Clark Sisters, Destiny's Child, Mary Mary, and Monica, Georgia native Jones emerged in 2008 with the six-track EP Introducing Ashthon Jones. Jones auditioned for season 10 of "American Idol" and finished as the 13th-place finalist in 2011. The following year she released the single "Lookout" and appeared on Lecrae's GRAMMY-winning album, Gravity, as a guest artist on "Mayday," which also featured rapper Big K.R.I.T. Earlier this month Jones appeared on Big K.R.I.T.'s latest single, "Good 2getha."

Set for release on Sept. 30, Songs For A Healthier America aims to "inspire children to believe in themselves, be more physically active and make healthier choices." The multigenre compilation features 19 health-focused songs, including the first single "Everybody," which was released June and features Doug E. Fresh, Ryan Beatty, Dr. Oz, and Jordin Sparks. The video for the song features a guest appearance by first lady Michelle Obama. Other artists featured on the album include Ashanti, Travis Barker, the Hip Hop Doc, Ariana Grande, and Nils Lofgren. The album was co-produced by Hip Hop Public Health and Partnership for a Healthier America, an organization founded in 2010 in conjunction with Obama's Let's Move! initiative. 

In conjunction with the release of Songs For A Healthier America, Jones has been selected by Obama to perform "Good Living" at the Apollo Theater in New York on Sept. 30.

Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

Joan as Police Woman


Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2020 - 07:21 pm

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, singer/songwriter Joan Wasser of Joan as Police Woman, whose forthcoming covers album, COVER TWO, includes tracks by The Strokes, Prince, Talk Talk, and more, shares her Quarantine Diary.

Thursday, April 2

[10 a.m.-12 p.m.] Went to bed at 4 a.m. last night after getting drawn into working on a song. Put on the kettle to make hot coffee while enjoying an iced coffee I made the day before. Double coffee is my jam. Read the news, which does not do much for my mood. Catch up with a few friends, which does a lot of good for my mood. Glad it goes in this order.

[12 p.m.-2 p.m.] Make steel cut oats with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, a sprinkling of cinnamon and cardamom, and of course, coconut butter to melt on top. If you’re not into coconut butter (sometimes marketed as coconut "manna"), I’d suggest just going for it and getting it (or ordering it) and putting it on your sweet potatoes, your oats, anywhere you’d put butter. I’m not vegan but I do enjoy hearing the tiny scream uttered by a strawberry as I cut into it. 

Contemplate some yoga. Contamplate meditating. Do neither. Resume work on the song I want to finish and send today. I have a home studio and I spend a lot of my time working on music here. The song is a collboration sent to me from Rodrigo D’Erasmo in Milano that will benefit the folks who work behind the scenes in the music touring system in Italy. 

[2 p.m.-4 p.m.] I traded in a guitar for a baritone guitar right before all this craziness hit but hadn’t had the time to get it out until now. I put on some D’Angelo, plugged into my amp and played along as if I were in his band. Micahel Archer, If you’re reading this, I hope you are safe and sound and thank you immensely for all the music you've given us always. 

[4 p.m.-6 p.m.] Bike repair shops have been deemed "necessary," thank goodness, because biking is the primary way I get around and I need a small repair. I hit up my neighborhood shop and they get my bike in and out in 10 minutes, enough time to feel the sun for a moment. 

I ride fast and hard down to the water's edge and take in a view of the East River from Brooklyn. There are a few people out getting their de-stress walks but it is mostly deserted on the usually packed streets.

[6 p.m.-8 p.m.] Practice Bach piano invention no. 4 in Dm very, very, very slowly. I never studied piano but I’m trying to hone some skills. Realize I’m ravenous. Eat chicken stew with wild mushrooms I made in the slow cooker yesterday. It’s always better the second day.

[8 p.m.-10 p.m.] Get on a zoom chat with a bunch of women friends on both coasts. We basically shoot the sh*t and make each other laugh. 

Afterwards I still feel like I ate a school bus so I give into yoga. I feel great afterwards. This photo proves I have a foot. 

[10 p.m.-12 a.m.] Record a podcast for Stereo Embers in anticipation of my new release on May 1, a second record of covers, inventively named COVER TWO. Continue to work on music (it’s a theme).

[12 a.m.-2 p.m.] Tell myself I should think about bed. Ignore myself and confinue to work on music. 

[2 a.m.-4 a.m.] Force myself into bed where I have many books to choose from. This is what I’m reading presently, depending on my mood. Finally I listen to Nick Hakim’s new song, "Qadir," and am taken by its beauty and grace. Good night. 

If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website