The Essence Festival, known as "the party with a purpose", is an annual music festival which started in 1995 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 also held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal in 2016. 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 1995 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.
John Roger Stephens (born December 28, 1978), known professionally as John Legend, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and actor.
Prior to the release of Legend's debut album, he collaborated with already established artists. At various points in his career, Legend has sung in Magnetic Man's "Getting Nowhere," Kanye West's "Blame Game," on Slum Village's "Selfish," and Dilated Peoples' "This Way". Other collaborative appearances include Jay Z's "Encore", backing vocals on Alicia Keys' 2003 song "You Don't Know My Name," the Kanye West remix of Britney Spears' "Me Against the Music," and Fort Minor's "High Road". Legend played piano on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything". For his solo work, he earned a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single with "All of Me" in 2013. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2015 for writing the song "Glory" from the film Selma. He has also won ten Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe Award. In 2007, Legend received the Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2017 Legend received a Tony Award for co-producing Jitney for the Broadway stage.
Mary Jane Blige (//; born January 11, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, model, record producer and actress. Starting her career as a backing singer on Uptown Records in 1989, Blige released her first album, What's the 411?, in 1992, and has released 13 studio albums since and made over 150 guest appearances on other albums and soundtracks.
A recipient of nine Grammy Awards, in addition to receiving a record of thirty Grammy nominations, and also known as the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Blige is one of few entertainers in history to have eight or more albums to reach multi-platinum status. My Life, in particular, is considered among the greatest albums ever recorded according to Rolling Stone, Time, and Vibe. For her part in combining hip hop and soul in the early 1990s and its subsequent commercial success, Blige received the Legends Award at the World Music Awards. Blige also received the Voice of Music Award from performance rights organization ASCAP, with its official Jeanie Weems stating that "[Blige's] music has been the voice of inspiration to women worldwide in both struggle and triumph." Blige made Time magazine's "Time 100" list of influential individuals around the world in 2007.
As of 2013, Blige has sold more than 50 million albums and 25 million singles worldwide. Billboard ranked Blige as the most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years. In 2017, The magazine also lists her 2006 song "Be Without You" as the most successful R&B song of all times, as it spent an unparalleled 15 weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and over 75 weeks on the chart. In 2011, VH1 ranked Blige as the 80th greatest artist of all time. Moreover, she is ranked number 100 on the list of "100 greatest singers of all time" by Rolling Stone magazine. In 2012, VH1 ranked Blige at number 9 in "The 100 Greatest Women in Music."
Blige also earned high remarks for her work in film. She starred in the 2009 Tyler Perry box-office hit I Can Do Bad All By Myself and played a role in the film Rock of Ages (2012). She received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her musical contribution to the film The Help. In partnership with the Home Shopping Network (HSN) and Carol's Daughter, Blige released her "My Life" perfume. The perfume broke HSN records by selling 65,000 bottles during its premiere. The scent went on to win two FiFi Awards, including the "Fragrance Sales Breakthrough" award. In 2017, she stars in the period drama film Mudbound directed by Dee Rees.