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Essence Festival

essence fest logoESSENCE’s 19th annual gathering of music, culture, community, empowerment and inspiration has a brand new look and a new name. The new 2013 ESSENCE Festival—recently renamed to reflect the event’s expanded cultural focus—will take place July 4-7 in New Orleans, LA. This year’s Festival promises to bring “the page to the stage” with 4 days of entertainment and information on health, careers, education, civil rights, relationships, style, beauty and more that will get you into the Festival groove!

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The 20th anniversary of Essence Fest wrapped up with  record-breaking attendance. We caught up with festival goers as they were leaving the city.

As WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter reports, most who attended gave the event rave reviews.

From hotel entrances, to curbside at the airport, festival goers are packing up, and heading home.

Essence Fest 2014 has come to an end.

“The Essence Festival was put together very nice so I really enjoyed it. It was great,” one woman said.

And it was a record-breaking year.

More than 550-thousand visitors made their way to the Superdome to see more than 80-acts perform.

“Oh it was wonderful,” Ivory Williams said.

Williams and her crew traveled from Denver. It was her first time.

Trotter asked, “What did you like most? Seeing all the people, all the food, prince, Mary J. Erykah Badu, Charlie Wilson; all of them,” she replied.

“Yeah it was wonderful. Prince, prince did his thing; and Charlie Wilson.”

Law enforcement anticipated large crowds.

And on the heels of the Bourbon Street shootings just more than a week ago, extra officers were deployed in the downtown corridor.

State police, and officers with the NOPD were visibly posted to help keep crowds safe.

“I want to just give a special shout out to the men and women of the New Orleans police department who handled themselves professionally and courteously and made all of our visitors feel safe; which is critically important,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

With city leaders focused on making Essence a safe experience, visitors could focus more on the fun.

This group is now headed back to Atlanta a bit fatigued, but with fond memories.

“A little tired, yeah. Turned up in NOLA all weekend, but I’m feeling pretty good, feeling pretty good,” the visitor said.

Essence is said to have generated 100-million in economic impact.

Organizers are already planning for next year. The goal is the make the festival bigger and better.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - More than half-a-million people attended the 20th anniversary of ESSENCE Festival this weekend in New Orleans, blasting previous attendance records.

Organizers say more than 550,000 people flocked to the four day event featuring 80 artists and over 150 speakers including Prince, Lionel Richie, Steve Harvey, and Robin Roberts.

‪”Through a unique combination of entertainment and empowerment programming, the ESSENCE Festival has become the place where we come together to revel in culture and connect to our community,” said ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks.

For the first time in ESSEINCE  history all daytime and nighttime experiences were accessible online where Ebank said more than 11.5 million people login and watched.

Darian and Ledisi

Ledisi with WGNO reporter Darian Trotter

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – New Orleans native Ledisi gave us a sneak peek. Here’s raw video of her singing I Blame You off her new CD Truth.

Hear the eight time Grammy nominee Saturday at ESSENCE Fest. She will be preforming for the second time on the main stage.
But this would be her 12th year with the festival.


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Verizon Wireless and Black Girls Code and Love is Respect have partnered with Prince & ESSENCE Fest to encourage more black girls to learn coding.

It’s been said black girls just aren’t interested in computer science, woman aren’t good analytical thinkers.

But the girls here today tell us that’s a lie. “I love science I like astronomy, and I know other girls who also like those things,” says 12-year-old Olivier Ross.

She believes the real problem behind the lack of African American women going into computer based fields is fear.

“It’s because they’re afraid. I know there’s a computer programming class in my school, and I’m the only girl. Normally you want to do things with your friends and if you don’t know anyone there, it’s scary,” she says.

Another Black Girls Code seminar attendee believes it goes back to stereotypes.

“I think that African American girls are kind of put in this one category,” she says.

So what needs to change? What do we need to do to see more women in the industry?

Olivier says just show girls that its OK to like coding, and that other girls like it too, then “find as many girls like that as possible and show them to people who hire people and say we exist.”

Olivia, in case you were wondering, wants to go into computer science and will be eligible for hire in a few years.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The music kicked off last night at the Superdome, but Friday the ESSENCE seminars started in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the ESSENCE Music Festival in New Orleans.

In attendance; lots of women, celebrities, fashion and posing.

New With A Twist’s LBJ has more story.

From the moment you walk through the front gate, there’s purple excitement at Essence Festival. WGNO News with a Twist features reporter Wild Bill Wood ran into folks taking pictures and ready for Prince.

It’s family day at Essence Festival. WGNO News with a Twist features reporter Wild Bill Wood ran into some kids making masks….with a twist.

ESSENCE editor-in-chief, Vanessa Bush, talks with LBJ on News with a Twist about the 20th Anniversary of ESSENCE Fest and explains what #PurpleESSENCE is all about.

Essence Fest is the place to be seen from the seminars to the concerts to the hottest night clubs like Eiffel Society, where everyone’s stepping it up to step out.

“It’s how you style yourself.  For Essence Fest, people like to turn it up a bit,”  Jeff Gapultos, Owner of Eiffel Society, said.

Paris Hatcher is a Fashion blogger and style expert.

“When you look good, you feel good.  Over the years, the looks at Essence has gone from really casual to dressy,”  she said.

For more fashion tips, check out Paris Hatcher’s fashion blog:

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During Essence Fest, Common, Q-Tip, and DJ Mannie Fresh will be at Eiffel Society on Saturday, July 5th.

For information about Essence Fest at events at Eiffel Society: