Photo caption: Halle Berry with ESSENCE Magazine Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca
Photo credit: Getty Images for 2017 ESSENCE Festival
From the iconic Diana Ross’ opening night performance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry’s kick off of the ESSENCE Festival Daytime Empowerment Experience to Xscape’s first performance in 15 years, the firsts kept coming at the 2017 ESSENCE Festival.
In its 23rd year, one of the nation’s largest cultural Festival continues to grow and transform to showcase an even wider selection of performers, entertainers and interactive experiences.
Snapshot of other empowering firsts:
Chance the Rapper – The popular rapper, songwriter, record producer and philanthropist, celebrated by fans for his thought-provoking lyrics, made his first appearance at the 2017 ESSENCE Festival and posted on social media offering free tickets to any hearing impaired fans in New Orleans.
Essence Festival Celebrity Basketball Game – ESSENCE Day of Service shone the spotlight on the power of giving back as volunteers with Master P’s Foundation gave a New Orleans area senior citizens home a major face lift. The Day concluded with the first ever Essence Festival Celebrity Basketball Game in partnership with the rapper and featuring players Trey Songz, Terrance J., Romeo Miller and other high profile celebrities. The star-studded basketball gamed raised money for local youth scholarships in partnership with Master P. and his foundation, Team Hope NOLA.
The First All Female Performance Night – For the first time ever, the 2017 ESSENCE Festival celebrated women with ‘My Path to Strength’, a night of concerts featuring all-female performers at the Louisiana Superdome over the Fourth of July weekend. The special event was inspired by festival headliner Mary J. Blige’s “Strength of A Woman” album.
The First Beauty Carnival – This new interactive beauty centric-event was a daily highlight of the ESSENCE Festival’s daytime programming, hosted by E! News Freestyle Host Zuri Hall, with appearances from WE TV personality & celebrity hair stylist Kim Kimble. The 3-day experience featured beauty tutorials from expert beauty blooggers and stylists, insights and the hottest beauty trends from ESSENCE editors, beauty bloggers and celeb stylists and a Street Style live fashion show that invited the audience to get styled and walk the runway.
McDonald’s 365 Awards First All Female Honorees Luncheon – On Sunday, the festival concluded with more performances and empowering daytime activities as well as the 14th Annual McDonald’s 365 Awards Luncheon which showcased a history-making first with an all-female slate of honorees. The list included Olympic gold-medalist and author Sanya Richards-Ross; actress and comedian Tichina Arnold, business executive and author Valeisha Butterfield-Jones; and McDonald’s owner/operator Marty Gillis and Chasity Hale who was recognized alongside this lineup with the McDonald’s 365Black Community Choice Youth Award for her work as a writer, poet and community leader.
2017 ESSENCE Festival Record-Breaking 4 Billion Social Media Impressions
This year’s festival also achieved another monumental first by extending its reach worldwide and generating a record-breaking 4 billion social media impressions as festival goers and celebrities alike stayed #Woke in celebrating and showcasing their festival experience online.
Check out a few of the posts and tweets Empower captured from across a spectrum of social media platforms.