Mary J. Blige had the New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the palm of her hand on Saturday night (July 7) at the 2012 Essence Music Festival. The legendary singer took all in attendance through a roller coaster of highs and lows, with a set of overflowing emotion.
Veteran to the Essence festival, Mary J. Blige undoubtedly knew what she was doing up there: donning a golden sequined top, black pants, black knee-high boots, and her signature shades, Blige blazed through her discography, from classics ("Real Love," "Not Gon' Cry," "Family Affair") to her most recent hits from her "My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1)" album ("Why" "Mr. Wrong").
Throughout her 90-minute set, Mary would transition from hit to hit with words of empowerment -- "You can't hold a good woman down" -- and evoke emotion from all those in attendance when belting cries of sorrow and strength. MJB closed the show in a high note, continuing the night's theme of female empowerment by performing hits such as "Just Fine" and "Happy," before an encore of the fan favorite "Be Without You."
Along with Mary's phenomenal performance, the women, specifically, were fully taken care of and represented on the second night of the three-night music festival, as Tank, Ledisi, Mary Mary and Kevin Hart took over the main stage. Stephanie Mils filled up every pocket of the Ford Superlounge, and Dru Hill woo'd the women as they reunited at the Coca-Cola Superlounge.
What'd you miss on Saturday at Essence Fest? Check out these seven things seen and heard:
1. After belting out one of her most vulnerable cuts, "No More Drama," Mary lowered the mic and found herself speechless and in tears to the fans' love. Several moments throughout her set, fans showed their loyalty and by reciting every word in unison, without request.
2. Mid-set, after performing "Real Love," Mary J. Blige paid homage to Friday's Essence Festival headliner, Charlie Wilson, by performing her own rendition of "Outstanding." "Thank you Charlie Wilson for the great music," MJB said.
3. Two years after the debut of their fourth studio album, "InDrupendence Day," Dru Hill trekked to New Orleans to reunite on stage, twice. During their set at the Coca Cola Superlounge, at both 8:45 and 10:14 pm, the 90s R&B group, dressed in all white, performed classics like "Beauty," "In My Bed," and a new song called "Always."
4. The Superdome quickly filled up minutes before Kevin Hart took the stage for his stand-up performance. The comedian/actor, who celebrated his birthday on Friday, had the packed house laughing seconds into his set, referencing characters from his past shows that loyal Hart fans would appreciate.
5. Ledisi returned to her hometown to give one of the night's best performances. The singer had the ladies in the Superdome on their feet and with their arms around their beau for songs as her latest single, "So Into You," and independent women anthems like "Bravo" and "Pieces of Me."
6. Opener Tank warmed up the crowd, the majority of which were slowly making their way into the venue, with ample seduction. Although the singer performed an array of fan favorites, plucked from his five studio albums, the crowd went wild when Tyrese -- a third of their group TGT (Tyrsese, Ginuwine, Tank) -- joined him on stage. Tank tried to regain the reigns by shedding clothes during his last song of the night, "Please Don't Go."
7. DJ Steve Nice returned for a second night to keep the crowd on their feet with R&B/hip-hop classics before MJB took over the main stage. Nice kept the crowd moving and hollering to hits from artists from all coasts, from Notorious B.I.G. to Tupac.