In addition to a main stage lineup that features former First Lady Michelle Obama, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Pharrell, Nas and H.E.R., the Essence Festival will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a key nod to Africa’s burgeoning global impact. This year’s slate of popular superlounges will include the festival’s first African-dedicated soiree, Jam Africa.
Running nightly through the Essence Festival’s three-day residency at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans (July 5-7), Jam Africa will showcase talent from East, West and South Africa. Comedian Celeste Ntuli will open each evening for the following performers: Sauti Sol (July 5), Vanessa Mdee, Wurld and Yemi Alade (July 6) and Nasty C and Rayvanny (July 7). Two previously announced acts — Amanda Black and Tellaman — are unable to appear owing to visa issues.
Jam Africa was curated by Johannesburg, South Africa-based Africa Creative Agency (ACA). “Essence has been at the center of African American culture for the last 50 years,” says ACA founder/CEO Colin Gayle. “And the African American community at large has begun to embrace music, art and fashion from Africa within the pop mainstream market. Now ACA has been given a unique opportunity to showcase this talent to more than 600,000 tastemakers in New Orleans.”
“It’s an incredible opportunity to perform for one of the biggest festivals in North America, one dedicated to urban culture and lifestyle,” adds ACA act Nasty C. Strings and Bling, the rapper’s 2018 sophomore album, was named best hip-hop album at the 2019 South Africa Music Awards.
The talent lineup for the 2019 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola numbers more than 80 acts including Normani, Teyana Taylor, Big Freedia, Jermaine Dupri and Afrobeats star Davido. Frankie Beverly (Maze), the festival’s longtime closing night mainstay, will also be saluted.