Essence Music Festival 2013, which takes place every Independence Day weekend, draws one of the largest groups of black performers, and this year has been no different. With some of the biggest names in entertainment set to take the stage over the entire weekend, the event was kicked into high gear with Jill Scott, LL Cool J and Maxwell. According to Entertainment Weekly:
“The 19th annual Essence Music Festival kicked off this year’s first big night of concerts in the Superdome with rousing performances from headliner Maxwell, along with Jill Scott, LL Cool J, and Brandy on Friday.
“Brandy warmed up the crowd with songs from her Two Eleven album, while LL proved age ain’t nothin’ but a number as he bounded about the stage with just as much gusto and showmanship as he had in his early days, sweating through his T-shirt while performing all his big hits, from “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” and “Rock the Bells” to “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “’Round the Way Girl.” EPMD also joined the rapper/actor on stage for a session that brought the crowd to its feet.
“LL also made a few ladies’ nights when he invited up some women who did not fit the “Barbie doll” image — as he put it– and set them on a dance competition, after which one particularly enthusiastic fan seemed reluctant to leave the stage.
“Jill Scott took the stage with her trademark warm yet commanding presence as she belted out hits like “Cross My Mind,” “Long Walk,” and “Hate on Me.” Her all-male backing group, The Pipes, turned the audience up as they sang H-Town’s “Knockin’ Da Boots” to her as she coyly played along.
“The songstress choked up during an emotional performance of “Quick,” and finished off her set with a rendition of “He Loves Me,” partially sung in Spanish, that showed off her operatic range.”
Apparently the show was already wildly successful this year as Essence added additional events this year including a family day. In what seems to be a growing trend in the festival business (BET just executed a similar strategy last week), the plans proved to work to the benefit of the organizers and the patrons. According billboard.com:
” Essence hosted its first Family Day on July 4, a free daytime event that attracted over 52,000 people and should help add to the festival’s already massive numbers. The 2012 festival, which featured performers like Aretha Franklin, D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige, attracted 413,000 people over three days, down slightly from 2011’s 422,000 but up from 2010’s 400,000. One can only imagine what the turnout will be in 2014, when Essence turns 20 (plans are already underway with the city to make the celebration an exceptional blowout.)”
But on the Superdome stage the show is always dominated by Maxwell. Who, year after year, never disappoints is female-centric audience. As told by billboard.com:
“Making a triumphant return to Essence, not to mention performing after cutting his 2012 tour short, Maxwell proved he knew exactly how to win over the ladies. Not just by giving them plenty of seductive falsetto — though there was plenty of that, most notably on his still spine-tingling cover of Kate Bush’s ‘This Woman’s Work,’ which had the crowd practically melted into the concrete.
“No, the real secret to Maxwell’s untouchable grasp of the women at Essence want came from this simple question. ‘How many of you watch ‘Scandal’?’ Yes, Maxwell talked everyone’s favorite TV guilty pleasure in between pelvic thrusts, sexy snarls and at one point, a glimpse of his ample behind as he did an acrobatic back-bend to perform alongside a video of Alicia Keys during ‘Fire We Make.’ He even previewed his oft-delayed album ‘Summers’ with ‘Gods,’ a single he previewed on his SoundCloud page in January.”
Essence has definitely been spectacular so far, continuing a great week for music. But the weekend will come to a fevered climax when superstar Beyonce takes the stage at the Superdome. Will Bey’s performance be so hot that she’ll put the lights out again like she did during the Super Bowl in the same venue? We’ll sure find out tonight.