Queen Latifah, Andra Day, Jazmine Sullivan And More Celebrate Essence Black Women In Music

Queen Latifah and MC Lyte
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for ESSENCE

Queen Latifah and MC Lyte attend the 2016 Essence Black Women in Music event at Avalon on Feb. 11, 2016 in Hollywood, California. 

The multifaceted power of Black Girl Magic spirited its way around Avalon Hollywood last night (Feb. 11) during Essence Black Women in Music. Among the faces personifying the theme of the magazine’s seventh annual Grammy Week soiree: hip-hop icons Queen Latifah and MC Lyte, Zendaya, Estelle, Corinne Bailey Rae, and current Grammy nominee Lalah Hathaway.

Before Essence’s celebration of this year’s black female Grammy nominees got underway, guests inside the Avalon’s art deco lobby munched on an unending supply of tasty snacks ranging from mini chicken tacos and crab cakes to beef sliders and churros. Spinning the tuneful backdrop was DJ Rashida, whose memory-evoking ‘90s playlist featured Usher, The Notorious B.I.G, Faith Evans, Zhane and Donell Jones.

Following welcomes from Essence president Michelle Ebanks, editor in chief Vanessa K. De Luca, and entertainment director Cori Murray, it was time to get the party started. And that’s exactly what happened with rousing performances by Andra Day and Jazmine Sullivan, backed by Adam Blackstone and the BBE All-Star Band.

Day sang her single “Rise Up” (“I pray this song is encouraging and healing for those who need it,” she told the crowd) and a soul/jazz-fueled reinterpretation of Notorious B.I.G’s “Big Poppa.” Noting that her opening song was a “true story,” Sullivan ripped into her 2008 hit “Bust Your Windows” as well as the more recent “Forever Don’t Last.”

Newcomer Day and Sullivan are current Grammy nominees. Day is up for best R&B performance  (“Rise Up”) and best R&B album (Cheers to the Fall). Also up for best R&B album (Reality Show), Sullivan also has nods for best traditional R&B performance and best song for “Let It Burn.” Talking to Billboard after the show, fellow best traditional R&B nominee Lalah Hathaway said she’s “nervous but hopeful” for a third consecutive Grammy win.

Also repping Black Girl Magic inside Avalon Hollywood: Empire’s V. Bozeman, Tweet, Christina Milian and Sheryl Lee Ralph. Among the male celebrants were singers Bilal, Russell Taylor and Trevor Jackson, choreographer Frank Gatson Jr. (BET’s forthcoming Chasing Destiny with Kelly Rowland) and the funk master himself, George Clinton