Essence recently announced its 2020 Essence Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience. 

For the first time in the Festival’s 26-year history, the much-anticipated celebration – which annually draws more than 500,000 attendees and contributes almost $300 million in economic impact over July 4th weekend in New Orleans – will be produced as a fully virtual experience spanning two weekends of programming that entertain, empower, inspire, educate and mobilize.

Taking place June 25-28 and July 2-5 (Thursdays-Sundays) and 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. Essence’s #BlackVotesMatter365 voting hub will also be a core element of the virtual Festival including quick access to helpful resources for Black women and communities to amplify their voices in local and national elections through voting. 

The Festival will also include a benefit initiative to raise funds to support the critical needs and sustainability of Black and Brown entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses, and organizations focused on racial equity across the U.S.  For an up-to-date artist lineup and schedule, click here. 

“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, parent company of Essence.  “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.

Essence is honoring frontline workers with its first-ever ESSENCE Essential Heroes Awards program.  This three-part, year-long franchise will highlight those who, despite systematic disparities, have risen to become Essential Heroes in their communities during this pandemic.  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.

The 2020 Essence Festival of Culture will be hosted by Loni Love and feature: 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.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell, PJ Morton, Big Freedia, Irma Thomas, Tank and The Bangas and Big 6 Brass Band will lead a special tribute to the city of New Orleans. 

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; Ryan Michelle Bathe; Don Lemon; New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser; Ferguson Mayor-Elect Ella Jones; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; Tamika Mallory; Lori Harvey; Teyana Taylor; Iman Shumpert; Ryan Destiny; Kirk and Tammy Franklin; Lexi Underwood; Egypt Sherrod; Lena Waithe; Lisa Nichols; Marc Morial; Master P; Naomi Campbell; Nia Long; Shaun T.; Tabitha Brown and more.

With an impressive slate of talent, the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture will deliver diverse programming within the following daily overviews:

Thursdays:

Essence Wellness House [5 PM-9 PM (ET)]: Kickstart your path to recovery with meditation, conversations, workouts and tutorials designed to boost your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and financial wellbeing.

Fridays:

Essence Beauty Carnival [5 PM-9 PM (ET)]: Step inside a virtual beauty sphere with top brands, makeup artists, hair stylists, skincare experts and more! 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 [9 PM-10 PM (ET)]: Tune in for music brought to you by your favorite stars.

Saturdays:

Wealth & Power [2 PM-6 PM (ET)]: 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, the issues that matter most…and why your voice counts!

Entertainment All-Access [6 PM-7 PM (ET)]: Catch your Hollywood favorites in Q&As and be the first to see exclusive sneak peeks of the hottest upcoming releases.

Evening Concert Series [7 PM-10 PM (ET)]: Our explosive evening concert series goes digital! Catch the #ESSENCEFest all-star lineup in performances to benefit and celebrate our Essential Heroes, Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.

Sundays:

Get Lifted Gospel Sunday Celebration [11 AM-1 PM (ET)]: Tune in for Sunday worship featuring powerful words of praise and legendary Gospel performances.

For more information and to register, visit www.essencefestival.com.  Join the conversation via social @EssenceFest.

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