The Essence Festival is returning in its virtual format later this summer. The annual event will be broadcast live on ESSENCEStudios.com and ESSENCE.com for two weekends: Friday, June 25 through Sunday, June 27; and Friday, July 2 through Sunday, July 4. In a press release on Wednesday (June 2), Essence announced the festival’s star-studded lineup, which will include Jazmine Sullivan, DJ Khaled “and friends,” Kirk Franklin, Davido, Michelle Williams, Ne-Yo, Tank and D-Nice, with additional names to be announced in the coming weeks.
According to the announcement, the festival’s interactive segments will also see appearances by Mary J. Blige, Angela Yee, Tiana Major9, Big Freedia, Miss Lawrence, entrepreneur Jesseca Dupart and more.
“The ESSENCE Festival of Culture, now the largest festival in the nation by per day attendance, is an unparalleled convening and celebration of global Black culture and continues to have even deeper impact on our communities via our expanded focus on economic inclusion, cultural ownership and community development,” Latraviette Smith-Wilson, the ESSENCE chief strategy & engagement officer, said in a statement.
“As a live experience, the ESSENCE Festival normally attracts more than 500,000 attendees annually during July 4th weekend in New Orleans — but last year, we made the necessary decision to shift our multi-day celebration to an innovative virtual format due to COVID-19,” Smith-Wilson continued. “The ESSENCE Festival was the first of its kind and scale to be executed virtually during the pandemic and our team worked tirelessly to deliver the content, programming and resources that our community desired.”
According to the release, this year’s installment will feature a “new hybrid experience that will directly touch the people of New Orleans and Louisiana while also further extending our reach, engagement and impact via enhanced digital, technology and streaming capabilities to connect more of our community in the U.S. and across the diaspora.”