The Crusader Newspaper Group


The New 411

By Raymond Ward, Chicago Crusader

COUNTDOWN TO NOLA! It’s almost time for the 2017 Essence Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. The fun takes place, June 29th through July 2nd and guests will be able to party the weekend nights away with their favorite artists and then wake-up early the next morning to also attend FREE daytime experiences for a fresh outlook on how to build a better future.

On Friday, June 30th the Main Stage will feature: Diana Ross, John Legend, India.Arie, Junior, Afrika Mamas and Rhonda Ross. On Saturday July 1st it will be Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan, Monica and Ari Lennox taking the stage…and the Festival closes on Sunday, July 2nd with: Chance The Rapper,  Master P Featuring Mystikal, Silkk, Trombone Shorty, Solange and  Ithwasa Lekhansela.

BUT…if cash is tight, and you’re going to be in New Orleans and you’re unable to secure tickets to the Main Stage events, Essence still invites you to join in the celebration and attend Essence Empowerment  Experiences at the Great Hall of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Each day is FREE and doors are open from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Conversations will include: Post Obama, Our New Political Agenda; Entertainment and Activism; The Millennial Message; We Are The Human Race; and Social Justice Through Social Media.

Screen Shot 2017 06 26 at 4.14.43 PMFriday will be hosted by Charles Divins and panelists will include the Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu; Real Housewife of Atlanta’s Phaeda Parks; Tina Knowles-Lawson; Sybrina Fulton; Angela Rye and journalist Soledad O’Brien.

On Saturday, July 1st, it’s: filmmaker Ava DuVernay; Dr. Michael Eric Dyson; Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Asha Bandlee; Marc Morial; Mary Pat Hector; and Iyanla Vanzant.

The education events conclude on Sunday, July 2nd with the 2017 All-Star Gospel Tribute to Dr. Cissy Houston Hosted by: Cheryl Wills and featuring Chante Moore, Kelly Price, Cece Winans, JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise, PJ Morton, Gene Moore, Bishop Lester Love, and Tyrone Foster and the Arc Singers. (Open seating for up to 6,500 Festival guests. First come, first served.)

You’ll also be able to register for a chance to win prizes like a brand new car. Check out karaoke contests, celebrity meet and greets, advance film screenings and intimate chats with the casts. You can get more information and register on For Festival updates, ticket information and more please visit or call 1-800-745-3000.

I’ll see you all in New Orleans!


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