“It’s called delirium at this point,” says Michelle Ebanks with a laugh when recently asked how plans for the 2016 Essence Festival were coming along. “All things considered, this year is smooth sailing,” continues the president of Essence Communications. “Fortunately, we’ve got a lot of these under our belt, so it’s hard to throw us.”
Indeed, New Orleans staple the Essence Festival has survived everything from acts of God (2005’s Hurricane Katrina) and man (2010’s BP oil spill) over the last 11 years. But clear skies and water are on tap as the annual Fourth of July weekend celebration kicks off its 22nd year. The partying shifts into full effect tonight (July 1) through Sunday (July 3) as more than 40 established and emerging acts commandeer the New Orleans Superdome mainstage and super lounges. This year’s headliners include Maxwell (celebrating his 20th anniversary in music), New Edition and Babyface (July 1); Mariah Carey, Charlie Wilson and Common (July 2) and Kendrick Lamar and Puff Daddy & the Family (July 3).