Essence Festival

Corey Seemen / Flickr

The Essence Festival marked its 20th anniversary by setting a record for annual attendance with more than 550,000 participants celebrating four days of R&B music, community and black culture at the Superdome and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

That's about 10,000 more people than attended the 2013 festival, which included a sold-out performance by Beyoncé. Organizers say the 2014 festival has earned the distinction of being the largest gathering in its history.

20th Essence Music Festival Opens In New Orleans

Jul 4, 2014

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. I'm fine with that theme you just heard. It begins this segment every morning. But this morning, how about this?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL NIGHT LONG")

LIONEL RICHIE: (Singing) All night long, all night, all night long.

This week on Inside the Arts, the 20th Essence Festival kicks off Independence weekend. We catch up with Prince protégé, singer Elisa Fiorillo Dease, who will perform with the pop icon in the Superdome.

The party with a purpose, Essence, continues with activities in the Morial Convention Center. We talk with author Jason Mott. His bestseller, The Returned, is the basis for the hit ABC TV series, Resurrection.

And, we round out with a song that takes a look at the World Cup through the eyes of the players.

Pop Culture Podcast: The 2014 Essence Festival

Jul 2, 2014
Northfoto / Shutterstock.com

Longtime NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune music writer Keith Spera has been at all 20 Essence Festivals. WWNO's Jason Saul hasn't been to any.

This year’s Essence Festival will be enhancing the empowerment component of the event that’s become known as the “party with a purpose.” The 20th annual Essence Festival includes the kickoff of a national drive to help minority entrepreneurs succeed.

Lindsey Patton

Dearly beloved, we will gather at Essence Music Festival on July 4th to get down with this man named Prince. Electric word “Prince” — it means “genius” and that’s a mighty big title, but I’m here to tell you: nothing compares to the Purple One.

“I don’t have a favorite era. It’s like saying ‘Which is your favorite child.’ Different eras, different songs fit different parts of your life, so I can’t say I have a favorite.”

That’s Lisa Heisser, a true Prince superfan.

When Gary Solomon Jr. graduated from the New Orleans Center from the Creative Arts, his plan was to go to New York University, become a lighting designer and never come back. Katrina changed all that.

On this week’s Notes from New Orleans, Sharon Litwin talks with Gary about the successful entertainment technology and design business he has built here.

More than a thousand people are expected to get free medical care today from a non-profit setting up at the Convention Center. It was moved up earlier than usual this year because of the Essence Festival.

Bill Lee

The Essence Festival runs July 4 to 7 in New Orleans, with speakers at the convention center and musical acts at the Superdome. It also fills up clubs and other venues around town at night. Nola.com and Times-Picayune music writer Alison Fensterstock gave WWNO some notes on what she’s looking forward to at this year’s Essence.

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