New Orleans is one of my favorite cities! Merge that with one of the greatest festivals of the summer and pure bliss is inevitable. I attended my first essence festival in 2010 working behind the scene's with the production crew and it was magical. The people, the music, the love was all captivating. Now with this years 2017 Festival approaching, I am excited to share the upcoming announcement exclusively with all the key info below. This years Essence Empowerment Experience will be a chance to go above and beyond with a community that is being the change it aims to see. I am proud to cheer on this incredible organization, knowing that being on the ground will only further build your wings to a better way of life. 


Essence Presents Keynotes, Conversations and Celebrations on Festival's Daytime Empowerment Experience Stage

Featuring Iyanla Vanzant, Ava DuVernay, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Cissy Houston & More

New York, NY (March 16, 2017) — Time Inc.’s (NYSE:TIME) ESSENCE® Festival, presented by Coca-Cola®, announces its star-studded daytime lineup of speakers and panelists for the event’s signature ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage, taking place June 30–July 2, 2017, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA. 

Free and open to the public, the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage will serve as the intersection of passion and purpose, bridging the gap between this generation’s most prominent voices in leadership–from social media activists to community organizers–and those who have laid the groundwork for them. Conversations and keynote addresses will put the invaluable, intersectional voices of Black women at the forefront and will feature influencers such as Iyanla Vanzant, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ava DuVernay, Rev. Al Sharpton, Phaedra Parks, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Luvvie Ajayi, activist April Reign, National Women’s March Co-Founder Tamika D. Malloryand Bishop Lester Love, with music provided by DJ Charles "Bam Bam" Belonge and house band Church Friends. 

Empowerment Experience newcomers Mary Pat Hector and poet Cleo Wade will shed light on a new wave of social and artistic activism anchored by next generation’s leaders. Plus, Cheryl Wills will host an all-star gospel tribute to Grammy-award winning, soul and gospel music icon Dr. Cissy Houston sponsored by Wal-Mart. Additional speakers and talent to be announced soon.

"This year’s ESSENCE Festival will be the largest gathering of African Americans following the presidential election, as activists and policymakers come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our communities across America,” said ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “Intergenerational programming spanning love, health, money, politics and religion will provide the tools to facilitate healing and growth through the sharing of expertise and experiences."  

The ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage offers curated content from ESSENCE's editorial team, extending conversations that have moved from the page to the screen to the stage. For a full lineup of this year’s daytime speakers and artists, visit

Media applications for the 2017 ESSENCE Festival® are now open. To apply for media accreditation to the Empowerment Experience, visit here.

Join the festival community: Follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2017 ESSENCE®Festival on Facebook.

The 2017 ESSENCE Festival® is presented by Coca-Cola®, sponsored by Ford, State Farm and Wal-Mart and executive produced by GeChar.