Best Essence Music Festival Moments

Posted On Friday, July 12th, 2013
Filed Under: shopping, Travel on a Dime

top moments at essence music fest

If you’re not familiar with Essence Music Festival or you’ve never attended the 3-day event, you should change that ASAP. The New Orleans based festival has been going down for 19 years and by day it’s home to empowering seminars and by night, features some of the world’s top musical acts.

I had the pleasure of attending EMF last week {my second year in a row} and in between hosting my Best Dressed Madame event and stuffing my face {try the chargrilled oysters at  Acme Oyster House and share a platter of fried seafood at Deanie’s}, I took in shows, a few events and even got in a bit of shopping. Take a peek at my top 5 Essence Fest moments, including stellar performances that blew me away and how I scored a unique purse for just $20.

My Black is Beautiful essence fest booth

My Black is Beautiful:
One of the most crowded booths at the daytime events was hosted by My Black is Beautiful. Women were treated to quick makeovers, sampled beauty products from Olay and CoverGirl and even got in on some fun at a photo booth.

Essence Fest proctor and gamble products, Essence festival beauty suite

Though it’s always great learning about awesome products, I was really excited to attend a dinner and screening for My Black is Beautiful’s first ever documentary, Imagine a Future. The evening was hosted by Tatyana Ali {Ashley Banks!!!} and the film highlights the beauty and self-esteem issues faced by Black girls and women. It was such a touching film and I encourage everyone to see it {watch the full documentary here}.

Imagine a Future documentary

Fashionable Vendors:
The Convention Center didn’t just feature booths by big brands, but independent vendors were also set up. I love buying from these vendors because the items are unique and tend to be pretty affordable. I’m obsessed with elephants so I had to snatch up a handmade bucket bag with the regal animal carved on the side. It was the best $20 I spent all week. I carried the bag throughout my trip and everyone admired it.

handmade bag, handmade purse, elephant purse

Super Lounges:
At night during Essence Music Festival, the attention shifts from the Convention Center to the Superdome where the musical acts perform. Though the main stage is the big draw, if you attend EMF, don’t overlook the super lounges. These smaller stages are more intimate, but the talent is still jam packed. Over the past year I’ve become a huge fan of Emeli Sandé {trust me, buy her album!} so I was excited to see her perform. As expected, her voice is amazing and I can’t wait to see her perform again in the future. Other notables in the super lounges included Tamia and R&B fave Mint Condition.


I must admit, I’m not a Beyonce stan. I mean, she’s entertaining and all, but I’m not a Beyhive member. Well, after seeing her close out the festival on Sunday night, I’m Team Beyonce. Her show is high energy and she moves so effortlessly, she makes you think you can do it too {but you can’t!}. Everyone in the Superdome was on their feet and screaming for Mrs. Carter. My other favorite performances on the main stage included Jill Scott, Maxwell and festival opener, Brandy.


Childhood Memories:
Though the artists whose music is currently on the radio tend to get the most love, it’s a welcome throwback when musicians from yesteryear rip the stage. My favorites this year included LL Cool J and New Edition. Well, I didn’t actually get to see New Edition because I got a pesky cold in the middle of my trip and had to sit one night out, but I hear they had the crowd going wild. Fun fact: New Edition was my very first concert!

New Edition performing

540,000 people attended this year’s Essence Music Festival and I can only imagine how many will flock to New Orleans for next year’s 20th anniversary celebration. If you plan to attend next year, start booking your hotel and flight by late December or early February. Trust me on this one.


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