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Gearing up for the 2014 Essence Festival

Trey Songz, Kevin Hart and James Harden
Trey Songz, Kevin Hart and James Harden
WordPowerUSA-LeAndrea Mack

For 20 years now, Essence Magazine has hosted a music festival featuring platinum selling R&B and hip hop artist from around the world.

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The festival has held the record of the largest African American event in the country and last year KC Examiner,columnist and writer, LeAndrea Mack, attended the event adding to the 540,000 people that attended last year’s festival, setting a record as the most attended Essence Music Festival ever!

One thing you must understand about this festival is that it is a "PARTY WITH A PURPOSE." Essence magazine strives to empower African Americans (especially women) and uniquely give them a voice.

The festival's purpose is to empower African Americans as a whole by celebrating themselves, the culture, and the music.

This year the festival days will start on Friday morning at about 9 am in the Ernest N Morial Convention Center with the Free Essence Empowerment Experience, an experience that provides workshops and events on money/finance, healthy living, love/relationships, style/beauty and career connections .

This experience will offer seminars from leaders in the African American community like Rev. Al Sharpton, Iyanla Vanzant, Steve Harvey, Terry McMillan, and Dr. Sherry Blake.

The experience will also include a panel discussion from celebrities like Alicia Keys, Nia Long, Terrence J, Sherri Shepherd and Cynthia Bailey on real societal issues, and Sunday worship from some of gospel biggest names like Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams, and Kim Burrell.

Big name vendors like McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola will be on-site offering unique entertainment experiences that are of interest to the African American community and free samples and demonstrations of products that are geared toward African Americans like Dark & Lovely and Cover Girl.

The Essence Empowerment Experience will go on each day of the festival until about 6pm when festival goers head a few blocks north to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the night's electrifying performances.

The music festival will, as always, have two separate entities within the Superdome going on simultaneously.

The main stage will feature performers like Prince, NAS, The Roots, Mary J Blige, Jill Scott, Tamar Braxton, Janelle Monae, Lionel Richie, Tank, Erykah Badu and Charlie Wilson and then there are free Superlounge performances with stars like Elle Varner, Estelle, 112, Jagged Edge, Marsha Ambrosius, Raheem Devaughn, and SWV.

The Superlounge performances are very intimate performances that take place on smaller stages throughout the Superdome.

These performances are personable and intimate while the main stage performances will give the complete concert experience.

In addition to all that the festival has to offer, New Orleans' French Quarters is also an attraction and sight in itself drenched in the city’s rich history and culture.

The restaurants, shops, and infamous Bourbon &Canal Street are all within walking distance making travel easy and inexpensive.

Check out some of the artist who stopped by the EMF Press Room last year where KC Examiner LeAndrea Mack was on hand after their performances and get ready for this year's New Orleans Essence Music Festival July 3-6!

Subscribe to Leandrea Mack's column

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