I recently attended the Essence Festival and it was an eye opening experience in many ways. I have a lot to say about it but tried to condense it to 4 short reasons why I think everyone should attend. Hope you enjoy and if you want to hear more about it, just ask.
1. It’s basically a conference for Black People. This festival creates a space for Black Folks to be comfortable to be them. Everywhere you look there are beautiful black people with different hair styles, outfits, and glowing in all their different shades of black. Standing in the conference room with that much beauty wowed me. Anyone who knows me knows that I love Black People. And y’all…I got my life. I literally fell in love …with everybody lol. I could barely pass folks without us complimenting each other’s hair, asking “where’d you get your t-shirt?” and giving high fives and saying amen to complete strangers during a keynote or interview. You know when your mom or grandma start a conversation with someone they don’t know standing in the grocery line? It’s like that feeling everywhere you go.
2. There are a variety of things to do. If you love music, go there. If you like T.V., go there. Interested in getting involved in your community….GO. From art, to food, to politics…ANYTHING that affects the black community was addressed in some way and the best part is, besides the concert…it’s free. You can spend all day in the conference center listening to interviews, seeing folks perform, dancing, and meeting new folks for FREE. Unless you want to purchase art, clothes, jewelry, or food, you don’t have to spend any money. If you choose to go to the concert, which you should, there are so many artists that anyone in any age group can see someone they like. The variety of Black music there represents our versatility, an aspect of our culture Essence definitely celebrates.
3. There are so many stars to attend that I couldn’t name them all if I tried. From political figures to actors, you can see them all. A keynote with Spike Lee and John Singleton, two multi-talented black directors isn’t something that you come across often, which I missed and am still getting over (lol). CeCe Winans and Kelly Price singing “Count on Me” as a tribute to Dr. Cissy Houston is one of the many unforgettable experiences I had at Essence Festival this year and it was something I wished so many more people could have been there to experience. Hearing Michael Eric Dyson encouraging Black Women that it is our tenacity and strength that has gotten our community to where it is and celebrate it, instead of categorizing us a too outspoken and sassy was heart warming. Speeches and moments like this are needed for even the strongest individuals, especially for Black People in the United States. Those few examples aren’t even all that was available, because there was so much more, including interviews with musical artists and actors from the most current popular shows directed and led by Black People.
4. It’s a lot of fun for so many different reasons. First, It’s in New Orleans! NOLA is definitely a place rich with alot of culture. The food is good, the city is live, and its in the south…so the people are polite. Second, because it’s in New Orleans if you wanted to make it a “turn up” trip, you could by going to Bourbon Street every night or the many post-concert events offered. Third, it’s a good time not just for the music or the more exciting points, but because of the people and all the festival represents. It’s celebratory, encouraging, and to those who choose to see it in that light, transformative. You could seriously leave there thinking differently about your art, your career, or place in the world. To most people it’s probably just a concert, but if you go, take advantage of the variety of things they offer for you to experience.