Essence Festival Bets on Itself for 25th Anniversary

This past weekend, Essence Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary, and thinking about how differently it handled the occasion from the way Jazz Fest celebrated its 50th is instructive. Like Jazz Fest, Essence Festival played to its base—African-American women. Two of the three headliners—Mary J. Blige and Frankie Beverly and Maze—are Essence Festival regulars, and Friday’s headliner—Missy Elliott—performed a confused set in 2015 that ended with the power cut on her before she had finished. 

Janet Jackson Remembers Her Father at Essence

{Updated] Keeping the fans in the Superdome has been a challenge for the acts that close the Essence Festival, but Janet Jackson didn’t start to hemorrhage audience members until a lengthy mid-set DJ break. That ended with the band playing “Let’s Wait a While” as an instrumental, which fans took as a chance to sing or leave. Still, once she was back onstage and performing, the exodus slowed significantly.

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