20th Essence Music Festival Lineup

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the 2014 Essence Music Festival will take place on 3-6 July in New Orleans, with headline acts including Prince, Lionel Richie, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott. With the exception of 2006, when the festival was held in Houston due to Hurricane Katrina, Essence has been hosted by New Orleans since 1995 with fans traveling from far and wide to join the event dubbed as ‘the party with a purpose’. Prince headlined the Essence Music Festival in 2004 and this will be Mary J. Blige’s ninth performance at the event. Prince is set to open the festival on the main stage on Friday night.

Born in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958, Prince has enjoyed a great measure of success, having produced ten platinum albums and more than thirty Top 40 singles, most of which he produced and recorded under his own music label. He has written hundreds of songs, and helped promote the careers of other artists including Carmen Electra, The Time (now known as The Original 7ven) and Sheila E. He has won seven Grammy awards, with two of his albums being awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award – 1999 and Purple Rain.

Other artists in the lineup include Charlie Wilson, Naughty by Nature, Ledisi, Eve, Raheem DeVaughn, PJ Morton, Sebastian Mikael, King, Pinettes Brass Band, and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

As the largest music festival dedicated to African-American music and culture in the United States, the Essence Music Festival was organized in 1995 as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine, and was such a success it just kept going. Today, in addition to the music, the festival includes talks by high-profile and influential speakers. The 2014 event features, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor Aja Brown, Iyanla Vanzant, Bishop R.D. Jakes, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.