Essence Festival is not just four nights of music at the Superdome. It also includes Family Reunion Day on July 4, and daily Empowerment Experience Panels July 4-7 at the Convention Center, the last of which is day-long tribute to gospel icons Tramaine Hawkins and Donnie McClurkin. While Superdome tickets cost plenty, these other events are free and require no registration.
The ESSENCE Festival's first-ever Family Reunion Day will be held on Thursday, July 4, from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. at Woldenberg Park. This free event is family-friendly and includes performances by Biz Markie, the Brass-A-Holics, Cupid, Doug E. Fresh, Gina Brown, Tweet, Stooges Brass Band and Water Seed, all of whom have pledged G-rated performances. Carla Ferrell and DJ Mike Swift will serve as co-hosts.
Essence Festival Empowerment Experience Panels happen daily, July 4-7, at the Convention Center; see links below to daily sessions. Participants include Ameer Baraka, Master P, Chanté Moore, Shaunie O'Neal, Steve Harvey, Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Reverend Al Sharpton, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Marc Morial, Soledad O'Brien, and many more. WWOZ's Soul Sister will be providing entertainment at Thursday's session.
Sunday, July 7, Get Lifted All-Star Gospel Tribute to Tramaine Hawkins & Donnie McClurkin: Gospel icons Tramaine Hawkins and Donnie McClurkin will be honored with a full day of praise, songs and worship with DJ Charles "Bam Bam" Belonge, Mara Schiavocampo, Lexi, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Vanessa Bush, Dawnie Walton, Pastor Debra Morton, Bishop Lester Love; Michelle Williams; Tasha Cobbs; Tyronne Foster and The Arc Singers; Patrik Henry Bass; Cheryl Wills; Kurt Carr; Yolanda Adams; Bishop Noel Jones; Amber Bullock; Hezekiah Walker; Isaac Carree; Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy; and Kim Burell.