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Essence more than music | Louisiana Festivals

The Essence Festival is more than thousands of fans ascending on New Orleans each year to experience some of music’s top entertainers.

Much more.

“Essence is a lot like a family reunion,” said famed producer and entertainer Teddy Riley. “Really, if you think about it, it’s beautiful.”

Riley, the creator of the new jack swing musical style of the 1980s, headlined the “Legends of Music” performance on Sunday night at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. He was joined on stage by, among others, Doug E. Fresh, Ginuwine, Timbaland, Pharrell and Teyana Taylor.

After the crowd-pleasing performance, Riley joined Doug E. Fresh, Wyclef Jean and Jerry Duplessis to discuss music, unity, health, wealth and more — even as Essence staple Frankie Beverly and Maze was closing out the four-day 25th annual festival.

The musical icons have also been cultural, societal and political voices in the black community.

Essence showcases the best of black music but also seeks to empower attendees with free workshops, seminars, panel discussions and other activities at the Ernest N. Moral Convention Center. Festival officials said this year’s edition drew more than a half-million people.

“This is bigger than us,” Riley said. “And if we keep continuing something amazing is going to happen.”

Riley said still more must be done to oppose forces that threaten to tearpeople communities apart.

“That’s what Essence is all about,” he said. “It’s about bringing us all together. But we’re not doing a lot about it. We’re just making these speeches and doing these seminars — not speaking the truth. And it just becomes hurtful to me as a people. I want to change that.”

Many artists try to exemplify that spirit of unity and family among themselves, they said.

“We may be from different homes, different communities, but I feel like we really are working on one frequency,” Riley said. “It’s synergy … All

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