The in-person return of the Essence Festival this past weekend united over 80,000 people in New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to breaking records as the highest-grossing event in the festival’s 27-year history, this year’s Essence Fest provided music fans with a cross-generational lineup of stars – not to mention countless memorable moments. Below is a glance back at some of the weekend’s biggest musical highlights:
Janet Jackson’s Electric Return to Essence Fest
Janet Jackson’s performance was among the most anticipated headline sets of the weekend. As one of the world’s most successful recording artists, Jackson didn’t disappoint, delivering a two-hour performance to an audience of over 48,500 festival attendees. Celebrating her nearly four-decade-long career, Jackson’s set included her most beloved hits, including “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and “Escapade.”
A Festival Packed With Hip Hop Legends
The weekend included a lineup of hip-hop legends that was unheard of. Nas, Method Man, Mannie Fresh, Lil Wayne, Jadakiss, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, The Roots, Doug E. Fresh, The Lox, and Lil Kim were just some of the artists that graced stages and surprised audiences during the three-day-event.
A Special Appearance By Patti LaBelle
Patti LaBelle celebrated her outstanding career on Saturday night with a special tribute show. The artist’s legendary vocals alone deserved a standing ovation, but beyond her gifted vocal register, LaBelle’s stage presence reigned supreme. In addition to revisiting some of her most beloved songs, LaBelle was joined on stage by actress, dancer, and choreographer Debbie Allen, who danced with the singer to her 1974 hit, “Lady Marmalade.”
New Edition Closes Out The Weekend
The title slogan for the festival was “It’s The Black Joy for Me,” and it reigned true in the arena as the weekend wrapped up with a close-out performance from New Edition. A spirit of love and togetherness could be felt throughout the stadium as fans belted out hits by the six-person R&B group. New Edition ended their set aptly with “If It isn’t Love,” a song that perfectly encapsulated the festival experience, as fans across all generations connected over the anthem.