The 20th Edition of the Essence Music Festival kicks off Thursday (July 3) with massive sets from Nas and Trey Songz at the Superdome. After the dome unloads for the evening, slide into Independence Day with parties at Harrah's, Cafe Istanbul and more. Here's the highlights of today's schedule:
Nas (Main Stage, 10:50p.m.)
New York rapper Nas released his first album, 1994’s Illmatic, when he was just 20. Two decades later, he remains acclaimed for innovative and evocative storytelling in his lyrics. He headlines the opening night of the 2014 Essence Fest.
Trey Songz (Main Stage, 9:30p.m.)
R&B artist and rapper Trey Songz experienced a meteoric rise over the past five years, most famously with his club jam “Bottoms Up.” His well-received sixth album, Trigga, was just released on July 1.
K. Michelle (Main Stage, 8:45p.m.)
Dramatic, fiery-haired singer K. Michelle won national attention as a star of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. Her long-awaited album Rebellious Soul was released in 2013.
AFTER THE FEST
Dryades Street Divas Review (Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 8p.m.)
Midcentury New Orleans hosted jazz greats at hot nightspots like the Dew Drop Inn and the Roosevelt Hotel’s Blue Room. In this cabaret-style historical fiction performance, divas Eartha Kitt, Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, and Etta James come to the aid of a new club owner on Dryades Street. Tickets $12.50.
Dani’ Wright & The Misters present Group Therapy (Cafe Istanbul, 10p.m.)
A varied line-up of local R&B, pop, rock, and funk at Cafe Istanbul tonight, just in time for an Essence Fest after-party. Bombshell singer Dani’ Wright performs with “Mr. Heatbreaker” and “Mr. Everything” as Dani’ Wright & the Misters. They perform along with New Orleans’ Speakerbox Experiment, Chanel, and Tank & the Bangas.
Welcome to New Orleans Festival Kickoff Hosted by Monica (Harrah’s Casino, 10:30p.m.)
R&B singer Monica hosts this kickoff party at the Masquerade nightclub inside Harrah’s Casino for Essence’s opening night. Tickets start at $15.