Essence Festival Celebrates Its 20th Year Anniversary and Empowers Young Women

The 2014 Essence Festival celebrated its 20th year anniversary during  4th of July weekend. Essence is an annual summertime event that is held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Originally founded in 1995 as a celebration of Essence Magazine's 25th Anniversary, the festival has been a huge success over the years.  What better place to have such a huge event, then in the Big Easy? Essence brings in tourist from all over the nation, who are excited to experience Louisiana’s unique culture, food, and fun.  People from across the nation traveled to the southern city to “Let the Good Times Roll” or as we say in Louisiana “laissez le bon temps rouler!”
 
The 4-day event features entertainment, empowerment seminars, and cultural experiences. It is said to be one of the largest music festival in the U.S., with an attendance that exceeds Coachella’s Valley Music And Arts Festival.
 
This was only my second time attending the festival, but for the second year in a row, I left the festival feeling motivated and inspired to set goals and dream big. The annual festival puts on a Essence Empowerment Experience, held at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The series is free to the public. It includes motivational and educational speakers who range from politicians, religious leaders, community advocates and celebrities. Fans are able to interact with each of the guests through panel discussions, interviews, and meet and greets. 
 
The Empowerment Experience is my favorite thing about Essence. Watch a few highlights from some of my favorite seminars from this year below
 
Robin and Sally Ann Roberts share the remarkable story about how Sally-Ann saved Robins life.
 
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room after hearing the sisters inspiring story. The Robert sisters are women who I truly look up to as a journalist. Robin is a co-anchor of ABC-TV's "Good Morning America, while Sally Ann is a former anchorwoman for WWL-TV in New Orleans, Louisiana. One thing that I noticed about both of the women was there love and faith towards God. Throughout their appearances they constantly shared how their unwavering faith in God helped them through the most trying times. During Sally-Ann’s book signing, which I was able to attend (Robin had left by then), she left a scripture in my book from Psalm 1:1-3 which states, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Watch the two share their story below!

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At night-time, the music came to life! Prince, Mary J. Blige, Trey Songz, and Nas were some of the festivals big performers. One of my favorite performances of the weekend would have to be Prince. He performed his classic hit songs in front of a cheering crowd, who all wore purple for the occasion. Another performance that I enjoyed came from newcomer August Alsina. He performed in the super lounge, a more intimate setting where he was up close and personal with his admiring fans. The room was filled to the capacity as many fans cheered on the New Orleans Native’s while he performed his hit songs. 

August Alsina Performs At Essence Festival 

 
Overall my Experience with Essence was wonderful and I can’t wait to go back again next year! Essence is more than a festival; it's a celebration of African American music, culture, beauty, and history. For the 20th year in a row, Essence has done a superb job at not only entertaining its attendees, but empowering them also.
 
If you have never been to the Essence Festival, then I would highly recommend that you GO at least once. I guarantee you will enjoy an experience of a lifetime!

CONNECT WITH ESSENCE
essence.com/festival
facebook.com/essencefest
twitter.com/essencefest

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INTERN | Kendria LaFleur may have been born and raised in a small town, but the hardworking 22 year-old has BIG dreams that she wants to accomplish. At McNeese State University located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the college student majors in Mass Communication. After graduation, she plans on pursuing her dreams of being a journalist. She previously interned at a local Fox affiliated News station where she served as a junior reporter. She is currently an intern for Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne where she works with the communications department. Kendria is also very active on campus and within her community. She is a member of the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, NAACP, Student Government Association and a volunteer for the Big Brother/Big Sister program. Kendria is currently the reigning Miss Lake Charles USA and will compete in the Miss Louisiana USA pageant this fall. INTERESTING FACT: “I have been journaling my life ever since I first learned how to write,” says Kendria. “I have a book shelf worth of diaries that I’ve written in over the years.”