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.
Did you know that John F. Kennedy was a Republican? Neither did I. But that's what one of my college students guessed in a course on news writing. I asked another kid what period followed the Industrial Age and she said, "The Golden Age?" We moved on.
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.
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.”
This week on Inside the Arts, we stroll down memory lane as the American Theater Project of New Orleans presents Dryades Street Divas Review: A Cabaret, with a cast representing artists who worked the "chitlin' circuit" back in the day. Those artists include the likes of Etta James, Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson and "Moms" Mabley.
Then, in Kenner, the Rivertown Theater's Patchwork Players open with Aladdin.
And, in the city where jazz was born, harpists gear up for a concert that will make their heavenly instruments swing.
In the middle of our live interview with Mannie Fresh at NPR's headquarters in D.C., Ali asked Mannie how he approaches DJing — does he play what he wants to hear? Or does he feed the crowd? "When I want you to understand something, I remix it," Mannie said. "If it's Earth Wind and Fire, and you not getting it, I'ma make you get it."