Bruno Mars, John Legend, Patti LaBelle & More Set for Virtual Essence Festival of Culture

Bruno Mars
Kai Z Feng

Bruno Mars

Media, technology and commerce company Essence announced on Friday (June 19) that for the first time in its 25 year history, their annual festival will be going virtual.

The 2020 Essence Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual, hosted by Loni Love and featuring D-Nice, will include a number of A-list performances, summits and panels from Bruno Mars, John Legend, Patti Labelle, Swizz Beatz, Estelle, Doug E Fresh, BBD, Nas, Andra Day, Master P, Tank and The Bangas, PJ Morton, India.Arie, Kelis, Kirk Franklin, The Clark Sisters, Egypt Sherrod and more.

Leading a special tribute to the city of New Orleans will be Mayor LaToya Cantrell,PJ Morton, Big Freedia, Irma Thomas, Tank and The Bangas and Big 6 Brass Band.  Also, featured in the popular Sunday gospel Get Lifted celebration are Anita Wilson, Bri Babineaux, Erica Campbell, Fred Hammond, Greater Sound of Greater St. Stephen FGBC,Jonathan McReynolds, Kierra Sheard, Kirk Franklin, Koryn Hawthorne, Marvin Sapp, Tamela Mann, The Clark Sisters, The Walls Group, Tye Tribbett, and more, along with Sunday sermons from Bishop Paul S. Morton and Bishop T.D. Jakes.

 The fully virtual experience will span two weekends, June 25-28 and July 2-5 (Thursdays-Sundays), and will go live on Essence Studios.

“Due to COVID-19, this was certainly not the year we planned for the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture, but challenging times call for innovative measures,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder & chair of Essence Ventures.  “As we began to see the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our community, it became more important to us than ever to still create a festival experience that delivered the community, love, laughter, fun and empowerment that the Festival is known for—and to leave our audience feeling inspired and uplifted, especially during these times."

Essence’s #BlackVotesMatter365 voting hub will also be a core element of the virtual festival, giving viewers quick access to helpful resources for Black women and communities to amplify their voices in local and national elections through voting.  There will also be benefit initiative to raise funds to support the critical needs and sustainability of Black and Brown entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses, and organizations focused on racial equity across the U.S. 

To top it off, in celebration of Juneteenth, Essence announced the Essence Unstoppable Collective — a $100 million public- private-NGO partnership and equity and justice benefit initiative for sustained change.

For an up-to-date artist lineup and schedule for the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual, click here.  


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