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23 Jul 2012

Philly shines at 18th Annual Coca Cola presents Essence Music Fest

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July 23, 2012 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: The Stylistics

(Photo by Pat Hawkins)


By Diane Larche


Philly was front and center at this year’s Coca-Cola Presents Essence Music Festival.


Hot super star comedian Kevin Hart was the only comedian to command the attention of thousands on the main stage of the New Orleans Mercedes Benz Super Dome during the weekend celebration of music and empowerment speakers. Hart held his 33rd birthday party at a nearby venue on Friday night attended by a who’s who in entertainment.


PHOTO: Kevin Hart and Trey Songz strike a pose for the camera.

(Photo by Pat Hawkins)


The Stylistics brought nostalgia to the Verizon Super Lounge on Friday night and Hip Hop Rapper Eve rocked the crowd for two shows Sunday. It was Kindred the Family Soul with their solid following of fans jamming it out on Friday night along with songstress Vivian Green.


The fest in its 18th year brings an estimated 400,000 thousand from across the country to New Orleans and boosts the city and surrounding town’s coffers by more than $100 million.


PHOTO: Chaka Khan gives a magnificent encore performance as she closed the Essence Festival Sunday Night.

(Photo by Pat Hawkins)


Others performing during the elongated four day weekend were Aretha Franklin, D’Angelo, Fantasia, Charlie Wilson, Chaka Khan, Tank, Trey Songz, Estelle, Melanie Fiona and more.


While concerts were performed at night, empowerment seminars were held during the day in the Morial Convention Center. Al Sharpton, Steve Harvey and a bevy of community leaders and academia shared words of wisdom and encouragement to the thousands who packed the room to hear them.


Also at the Superdome, festival-goers in droves took advantage of companies like P& G offering My Black Is Beautiful makeovers with Pantene and Oil of Olay products, Gain detergent and McDonald’s previewing their new Chocolate Chip Frappe.


Meanwhile Chaka Khan held a graduation for 33 New Orleans women enrolled in her Chaka Khan Foundation program in partnership with Essence and Verizon Wireless’ Hope Line program for victims of domestic violence. The graduation was held at the Morial Convention Center during the Essence Music Fest. Khan adopted the women, many who are rape and domestic violence victims and who were impacted greatly by Hurricane Katrina and still suffering from the devastation of the storm. She met them while in New Orleans to perform during Essence Music Fest 2011 and was so moved by their stories she decided to work with them to lift them out of their circumstances. Some have gone on to finish college and to open their own businesses.

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