Welcome back to Concert Daily’s coverage of the 2015 Essence Music Festival where we want you to join in helping us to #BringTheLove. We got an earlier start today so that we could go check out what was happening over at the convention center. As ALWAYS in the Summer down in Nola, it was BLAZING hot with crazy humidity, so we were ready to get into the AC over at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Granted we love the concerts over at the Superdome, the family oriented activities during the day are what set ESSENCE Fest apart from any other festival.
Upon walking inside Hall B, we could just feel the family atmosphere in the air. Parents walking around with their kids to the different interactive booths, best friends walking in groups to check out items for sale in the vendor row, and young couples holding hands while watching many of the free entertainment options were a couple of things that we observed. There’s one thing that we can’t forget, and that’s the food vendors! If you are a foodie, then this is the one official spot that you need to come to get your eat on. With various food vendors setup from different culinary styles to choose from, there was something for everyone’s pallet.
You couldn’t help but to walk down every inch of this place and find something that wasn’t happening. The Coca-Cola booth was jumping the ENTIRE time with numerous dance contests and people on the middle of the floor doing the Wooble, all while giving away free Coke products to help cool them down. The folks over at State Farm conducted one of the funniest karaoke sessions I had ever seen. Many reality TV stars were in the building as well, speaking on different panels that ranged from how to be a successful entrepreneur, to what’s it REALLY like being on reality TV. Out of all the panels that were occurring, the one that stuck out to us the most was the “Women In Media” that featured Loni Love, April Ryan, Dja “Déjà vu” Parker and Shirley Strawberry. Since we are a media entity, it was very rewarding to see black women who are already deeply involved in the industry give their views and accounts of how things really work, also including some “tokens” for young women who may want to seek out a career in the entertainment realm. Towards the end of the day, we headed over to the McDonald’s booth where R&B artist Case was about to hit the stage. He performed many of his older hits that had people singing along to every note, mixed in with some new music that he’s about to release.
Now on to the main event! The third night of the concert series is the one that mostly everyone has been talking about, and for good enough reason. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott was on the bill to make her return to music tonight on the mainstage of Saturday’s Essence Festival. The crowd tonight was noticeably younger, due to the likes of Missy, Usher, Sevyn Streeter, Elle Varner, Wale, Mali Music and Esperanza Spalding. Don’t get it twisted though, there was still enough music to go around for everybody, including the “grown folks” who dominated Friday’s crowd because Common, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Raheem DeVaughn and Kool Moe Dee were very much in the building.
First to take the mainstage was Academy Award Winner Common, who walked out to a crowd that was now starting to file into the venue. His set was relatively simple, outfitted in a plain jacket and jeans backed by a single background singer, a keyboardist, drummer and a DJ. While performing, he pulled a female fan up onstage to now be a part of show; this is the stuff that most fans dream of. What he did while she was with him, was most unique. He took the opportunity to get some basic particulars about the woman, whose name was Ashley, and began to form a freestyle rap centered around her while kissing her on the neck. Gazing into Common’s eyes and blushing, you could tell Ashley was both slightly embarrassed and extremely flattered at the same time, wouldn’t you be as well if you got pulled onto a huge stage at a national event and had a song tailor made to you?
Fan footage courtesy of Sonya Jenkins on Youtube
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