Since the New Orleans Natural Hair Expo was over, we decided to finally get into some Essence Fest activities. What’s an Essence trip without visiting the Convention Center? So we headed to check out all of the events that was going on there. Even though we only took in Day 3 of the Essence Fest, I can tell right now that this might be a rather lengthy blog post. Welp! I haven’t blogged about anything in almost 2 years so I think I’m going to enjoy this post at least 🙂 I hope you stick around for the entire recap.

My last trip to the Convention Center was very brief so I had no idea the building had a makeover since then. Soon as my friend and I walked in, we heard a familiar voice coming from the auditorium. It was India Arie performing with her acoustic guitar. As we entered the room to get a closer look, it was very reminiscent of walking into church late and wanting to get the best seat possible. There were attendants in the aisle similar to ushers directing people to the nearest seat. Of course I just wanted to walk down the center of the aisle to zoom in and get a few shots of India performing. I guess the usher and the Lord wasn’t having it on that day because he wouldn’t let me walk past the soundboard, lol. Oh well moving on.

We ventured into the marketplace to check out some of the vendors and see what they had to offer. The first thing I noticed was an abundance of boutiques selling African attire and Black empowerment inspired clothing. I love to check out the handcrafted jewelry vendors and there was a larger display by a company based in Atlanta that I really liked. My friend bought a silver & onyx ring that they resized on the spot. My friend and I discovered 2 young female entrepreneurs selling African headbands and accessories. Their company name is Love Lakeri and they road tripped all the way from Toronto, Canada to New Orleans for this year’s Essence Fest. I got fatigued just thinking about the amount of time and miles put into that trap, but I love their dedication to making the journey. I wish them nothing but the best.

Now since I didn’t apply for press credentials this year, I brought my camera to get some decent shots of the celebrities and performers as they normally easily accessible at locations throughout. I walked up to a large crowd watching Queen Sugar cast mates Kofi Siriboe and Omar Dorsey being interviewed. Interestingly, just the day before I ran into Kofi on Canal street and had no idea who he was because I don’t watch Queen Sugar or much television these days. I got crucified via Facebook from my female friends for my indiscretion too. Lesson learned.

Moving along.

Tamela Mann was performing on the Walmart stage so I broke out my handy dandy zoom lens and maneuvered through the crowd the best way I could to get some shots of her. I won’t complain about my shots considering one man just had to watch the entire song through his phone while he recorded a blurry image that was supposed to be Tamela.

Center Stage Live was good to me photographically speaking thanks to most people choosing to sit down and watch the performances with a handful people who stood the whole time. I even ran into one of my photography brothers covering the event. I walked up on Sir the Baptist performing which was great for me because he was scheduled to perform in the Super Lounge at the same time as Solange’s performance on the Main Stage.

I hung out at Center Stage for a while to see who else was performing. I was a little bummed because the signage said the Greenleaf cast would be on stage at a particular time but they were not.  I know I said I don’t watch much television earlier, but my mom loves the show and I got sucked into a few episodes so I wanted to see the cast. I got some good shots of Rocsi Diaz and BJ the Chicago Kid (whose Super Lounge set I wasn’t able to make it to) so I was pleased about that. Not to mention I got all of my 80’s and 90’s #MCM life when Blair Underwood came on stage.

To wrap up my day at the Convention Center; I was told by a friend to look for Issa Rae and get some shots of her, but I missed out on seeing her twice that day. One event was filled to capacity and the other had an extremely long line to take photos with her. I tried. On the flipside, I did meet author, artist, and dancer for Beyonce, Saidah Nairobi. She has a book out entitled Leap of Faith: The Journey of a Dream and it was cool to meet her. That’s one step closer to meeting Queen Bey to me, haha.

I never take this long to do anything so I’m summing up the rest of the day and night like this:

Shoutout to K House Clothing: I’ve been following this sister on Instagram for a while and her company was vending in New Orleans so I had to drop by. I create designs and press them on t-shirts and although that’s not technically fashion design I’m inspired by her work and dedication to her brand. It was great to meet in person although I found it kinda weird to say “Hey I follow you on the internet! This is me.” lol

Shoutout to Mr. Steal Your Grandma out there on his 16th minute of fame! I saw some women crowded around a guy taking photos and what do ya know, it was the most debonair 50 plus man in H-Town, Irvin Randle.

Shoutout to Harrah’s Casino (not really) for not even letting a sista level up on the penny slots, smh.

Shoutout to Solange and her band: It sure feels good to see my other favorite H-Town sistas (Shoutout to Debbie & Phylicia tho) for getting their props and putting out a dope projects. A Seat At The Table gives me life everytime! Salute.

Shoutout to whoever decided to put Xscape in the Super Lounge. No judging from me. I just never want to get caught in that massive crowd of people who were trying to get into their performance again.

Shoutout to June’s Diary: Those girls put on a helluva show! I had no idea who they were and my friend told me they were formed by Kelly Rowland (throws up my H in the air!). Stage presence and voices to kill it! When you cover En Vogue song’s and close out with a New Edition song, you’re alright with me.

Shoutout to Elle Varner: Who remembers her and J. Cole getting maybe a minute to perform heading into commercial breaks on the BET Awards? I DO! She had me at the vintage glasses, her guitar, and singing “So Fly”. She puts on a great show every time. I love her genuine spirit on stage and how she engages with the audience. Love always!

Shoutout to Master P & the No Limit Family: Master P, Mia X, Silk, Fiend and Mystikal gave me all of my 1998 senior in high school life in a short 30 minute span. I was a No Limit junkie and still rapped nearly every line almost 20 years later. Bringing Snoop Dogg out to perform “Gin & Juice” was dope too.

Lastly, shoutout to Chance the Rapper: I’m going to go on record and say that I don’t know a lot of songs by Chance, but I love what this brother brings to the table as a person. He’s so young and dedicated to his craft as well as his people. I will always be a fan and support his cause. I loooove No Problems but what I loved more about his performance was just watching how passionate he is on stage. A true artist.

If you managed to hang on this long, drop me a line. Thanks! Much love!


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