The Essence Music Festival, known as "the party with a purpose", is an annual music festival which started in 1994 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women. It is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States. Locally referred to as the Essence Fest, it has been held in New Orleans, Louisiana every year since 1994 except for 2006, when it was held in Houston, Texas due to Hurricane Katrina. It features artists simultaneously performing on a main stage as well as four standing-room only superlounge stages.
In 2008, for the first time since its 1994 inception, the festival was not produced by the original producer team. Instead, Essence Communications, owner of the festival and the Essence magazine, contracted Rehage Entertainment Inc.. A new main stage facelift was designed by production designer Stefan Beese. Beginning in 2013, Solomon Group became the Producer of Essence Festival.
Gerald Maxwell Rivera, (born May 23, 1973), better known by his stage name Maxwell, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor. Along with fellow musicians D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, Maxwell has been credited with helping to shape what has been termed the "neo soul" movement that rose to prominence during the late 1990s.
Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She rose to prominence after the release of the first single taken from her eponymous debut album in 1990, "Vision of Love". More than two decades later, Rolling Stone defined the song as an influence on "virtually every other female R&B singer since the nineties". Mariah Carey produced four chart-topping singles in the US and began what would become a string of commercially successful albums which solidified the singer as Columbia's highest selling act. Carey and Boyz II Men spent a record sixteen weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 with "One Sweet Day", which remains the longest-running number-one song in US chart history. Following a contemptuous divorce from Sony Music head Tommy Mottola, Carey adopted a new image and traversed towards hip hop with the release of Butterfly (1997). In 1998, she was honored as the world's best-selling recording artist of the 1990s at the World Music Awards and subsequently named the best-selling female artist of the millennium in 2000.
Carey parted with Columbia in 2000, and signed a record-breaking $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records America. In the weeks prior to the release of her film Glitter and its accompanying soundtrack in 2001, she suffered a physical and emotional breakdown and was hospitalized for severe exhaustion. The project was poorly received and led to a general decline in the singer's career. Carey's recording contract was bought out for $50 million by Virgin and she signed a multi-million dollar deal with Island Records the following year. After a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). The album became the best-selling album in the US and the second best-seller worldwide in 2005 and produced "We Belong Together", which became her most successful single of the 2000s, and was later named "Song of the Decade" by Billboard. Carey once again ventured into film with a well-received supporting role in Precious (2009), and was awarded the "Breakthrough Performance Award" at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Throughout her career, Carey has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. According to the RIAA, she is the third-best-selling female artist in the United States, with 63.5 million certified albums. With the release of "Touch My Body" (2008), Carey gained her 18th number-one single in the United States, more than any other solo artist. In 2012, the singer was ranked second on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Women in Music". Aside from her commercial accomplishments, Carey has won 5 Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards, and 14 Billboard Music Awards and has been consistently credited with inspiring a generation of singers. Referred to as the "songbird supreme" by the Guinness World Records, she is famed for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style and signature use of the whistle register.
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987) is an American rapper from Compton, California. Lamar embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the moniker K-Dot, releasing a mixtape that garnered local attention and led to his signing with Carson-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). Lamar began to gain major recognition in 2010 after his first retail release, Overly Dedicated. The following year, he released the independent album Section.80, which included Lamar's debut single, "HiiiPoWeR". By that time, he had collaborated with several prominent artists in the hip hop industry, including The Game, Snoop Dogg, and Busta Rhymes.
Lamar secured a recording contract with Aftermath and Interscope Records in 2012. His major-label debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, was released in October 2012 to critical success. The record contained the top 40 singles "Swimming Pools (Drank)", "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe", and "Poetic Justice", and debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart; it was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Preceded by the Grammy Award-winning single "i", Lamar released his third studio album To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015 to universal acclaim. The album drew on free jazz, funk, soul, and spoken word, and debuted atop the charts in the U.S. and the UK. In 2016, Lamar released untitled unmastered., a collection of unreleased demos that originated during the recording sessions for Butterfly.
Lamar has received wide acclaim and a number of accolades over the course of his career, including seven Grammy Awards. In early 2013, MTV named Lamar the No. 1 "Hottest MC in the Game" on their annual list. Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2016. Aside from his solo career, Lamar is also known as a member of the West Coast hip hop supergroup Black Hippy, alongside his TDE labelmates and fellow South Los Angeles-based rappers Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q.