After dissing the dead soldiers in Paris, skipping a peace forum and blaming state authorities in California for the spreading ...
In terms of leaving an indelible print in the realm of U.K. soulstresses, there’s Jane Eugene, Sade and Floetry. Who’s up next? Right now, at this very moment, the charts and the streets have stamped Ella Mai as the one.
The reason for the hysteria is the success of her single “Boo’d Up.” The tune, originally released in February 2017 on the EP “Ready,” has taken a minute to bubble, but the stars aligned perfectly and by the top of July, she had the hottest record in the country—just in time for the Essence Music Festival.
Her performance in the Coca-Cola Hot Right Now Superlounge proved that she was the real thing. Her show, which was scheduled for 7:15 p.m., was at capacity by 6:30 p.m. With each passing song in her five-song set, the anticipation swelled. In fact, with the cut “10,000 Hours,” it was about to burst. Feeling the vibe of the room, she took a second to address the audience.
“This is my first time at Essence and it’s an honor,” she said. “This was my mother’s favorite magazine, and now I’m here getting to show my Black Girl Magic.”
Soon thereafter, it was go time. With the first word from the first verse, the energy level of the 500-capacity lounge rivaled that of almost any mainstage act of the weekend. I kid you not. Thankfully, her tour dates have been announced and New York City is on the calendar. She’s slated to be at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. Doors open at 8 p.m. Showtime is at 9 p.m.
As for the rest of the weekend, the 2018 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola attracted more than 510,0000 attendees to New Orleans, marking one of the largest gatherings in the event’s 24-year history. For the first time ever, all three nights of the concert series at the Louisiana Superdome sold out. The extraordinary turnout underscores Essence’s engagement of Black women around community, culture and content, which was brought to life in innovative ways at the annual celebration.
“This extraordinary gathering of nearly half a million attendees—on the eve of the Essence Festival’s 25th anniversary—speaks to the unmatched convening power of our culture,” said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications. “As one of the country’s largest curated live experiences, the Essence Festival engages Black women globally—through a truly unique celebration of culture, connection to community and access to content that inspires and empowers.”
The music was highlight filled. Aside from the Ella Mai performance, the superlounges also hosted stellar performances by Daniel Caesar, Lloyd, H.E.R and Mali Music, and the mainstage acts, including The Roots’ music curation, Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First,” Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson, more than showed their worth.
The music, however, isn’t the only draw to the festival. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center hosted more than 100 influencers, leaders, creators, vendors and celebrities who participated in the festival’s daytime experience—rebranded as Conference & Expos—with programming ranging from beauty and style to business and entrepreneurship.
Powerhouse speakers included Lena Waithe, Lester Holt and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, as well as favorites the Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Iyanla Vanzant, among others. Those there that Sunday morning were able to catch the 10th anniversary All-Star Gospel Tribute, which this year honored Dottie Peoples, and featured performers included Briana Babineaux, Johnny Gill, Anthony Brown & group therAPy, Marvin Sapp and Regina Belle.
As a sponsor of the Essence Festival Weekend, McDonald’s affirms the brand’s dedication to celebrating everyday people who are striving to make a positive difference in their communities and move Black culture forward. This notion is manifested through their McDonald’s 365Black Awards. For the 15th annual presentation, this year’s honorees were Symone Sanders, Sarah Lee Ralph and the HBCU Forward Scholarship award recipients Kimberly Bryant, Monique Vann-Brown and Tishauna Wilson.
Looking forward to next year. Right now, back to the grind.
Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.