NEW ORLEANS-- The Essence Festival is celebrating 25 years this July, and they're doing it in style. It's everything we love about the fest, plus a lot more.
Essence Entertainment Director Cori Murray stopped by to give us a rundown.
Murray says, "For us it meant we had to go big or go home. And we decided to go big, big, big. We wanted to blanket New Orleans. We wanted to not only take over the Superdome and the Convention Center, but we are going to have these Wellness Houses, Fashion Houses, we're going to be everywhere. Republic NOLA, we want to be all over the city, any venue, this July 4th weekend, we want it branded as the fest."
This year Essence Fest features a Wellness House, Essence After Dark, and a few other features.
Murray said the constraints of time helped develop these ideas, "As you know, you've covered music for years. There is time limits. The Superdome is like you gotta get out of here at a certain time. But folks still wanted to party. Still wanted to continue having a good time. So, that's why we decided to do Essence After Dark. Those shows start at 10 pm and go to 2 am. And it's also a chance to do something a little different. You are not going to get Charlie Wilson there. But you are going to get Rhapsody, you're going to get Trina, you're going to get Big Freedia. A different audience, a different set of music is going to be at Essence After Dark."
The latest big surprise added to the line-up is former First Lady Michelle Obama.
According to Murray, this has been in the works for years, "One of her daughters' birthday is that weekend. Michelle Obama is always about family first. She's like no, no, no. This year she decided to come home. It's beautiful. We are so grateful that she accepted our invitation, and she's going to be here speaking in the Superdome. What I love about it, she wasn't able to bring the Becoming tour to New Orleans. This is a way for her to really embrace the city. And I hear here and Barack love New Orleans so I can only imagine the kind of stuff there are going to get into.