This year, Essence Fest goes virtual for the first time in the festival’s 26-year history because of the coronavirus pandemic. While fans won’t get to see stars perform in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture moves online with two weekends of music, entertainment, empowerment and culture.
Organizers announced the lineup for the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience taking place on June 25 to 28 and July 2 to 5.
The lineup for the virtual evening concert series features Amanda Black, Andra Day, Bell Biv Devoe (“BBD”), Bruno Mars, Burna Boy, Common, D-Nice, Damian Marley, Diamond Platnumz, Doug E. Fresh, Elephant Man, Estelle, India.Arie, John Legend, Ledisi, NAS, Patti LaBelle, Raphael Saadiq, Rapsody, Sauti Sol, Shaggy, Swizz Beatz and more, hosted by Loni Love.
Several New Orleans musicians will join Mayor LaToya Cantrell in leading a special tribute to New Orleans including PJ Morton, Big Freedia, Irma Thomas, Tank and The Bangas and Big 6 Brass Band.
Streaming on Essence Studios, the multi-day experience will extend to a global audience of viewers and feature virtual performances, summits, panels and more including leading musical artists, influencers and experts from around the world.
“Due to COVID-19, this was certainly not the year we planned for the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, but challenging times call for innovative measures,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder & chair, Essence Ventures, the parent company of ESSENCE, said in a release. “As we began to see the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our community, it became more important to us than ever to still create a Festival experience that delivered the community, love, laughter, fun and empowerment that the Festival is known for—and to leave our audience feeling inspired and uplifted, especially during these times.”
Also, featured in the popular Sunday gospel Get Lifted celebration are Anita Wilson, Bri Babineaux, Erica Campbell, Fred Hammond, Greater Sound of Greater St. Stephen FGBC, Jonathan McReynolds, Kierra Sheard, Kirk Franklin, Koryn Hawthorne, Marvin Sapp, Tamela Mann, The Clark Sisters, The Walls Group, Tye Tribbett, and more, along with Sunday sermons from Bishop Paul S. Morton and Bishop T.D. Jakes.
Other culture-leaders and influencers raising their voices to speak include Steph and Ayesha Curry, Rev. Al Sharpton, Don Lemon; Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Lena Waithe, Marc Morial, Master P and others.
Here’s the programming schedule for the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture:
“Essence Wellness House” 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. CST: Kickstart your path to recovery with meditation, conversations, workouts and tutorials designed to boost your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and financial wellbeing.
“The Essence Beauty Carnival” 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. CST: Stream live tutorials and get expert tips for accentuating your own flawless beauty with products and brands that are making a splash across the globe.
“Essence After Dark” 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. CST: Tune in for music brought to you by your favorite stars.
“Wealth and Power” Workshop 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. CST: Get the tools you need to invest in yourself and make strides in entrepreneurship, career and personal finance. Plus, get the latest on the 2020 candidates and campaign issues.
“Entertainment All-Access” 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. CST: Catch your Hollywood favorites in Q&As and be the first to see exclusive sneak peeks of the hottest upcoming releases.
“Evening Concert Series” (6 p.m. to 9 p.m. CST: Our explosive evening concert series goes digital!
“Get Lifted Gospel Sunday Celebration” 10 a.m. to noon CST: Tune in for Sunday worship featuring powerful words of praise and legendary Gospel performances.
*Artists and schedules are subject to change.
In addition, Essence will honor front line workers with its first-ever ESSENCE Essential Heroes Awards program. A ceremony recognizing the 50 ESSENCE Essential Heroes honorees will be streamed live via ESSENCE Studios during the virtual Festival experience on Saturday, July 4.
For more information and to register, visit www.essencefestival.com. Join the conversation via social @EssenceFest.