MSDTV Travel Highlights: The NoLa Experience at the 2017 Essence Festival


Media personality, Ms. Drama was on the scene for the 2017 Essence Festival in New Orleans.

Check out the the highlights after the break, including the celebrity appearences, the local hot spots and the sponsors that made it all happen…

As part of the Essence Festival Junket, we stayed at the swanky and conveniently lit Le Méridien on 333 Poydras Street. It was conveniently walking distance to the Covention center – and the Superdome — albeit you’re wearing comfortable shoes.


As part of our cultural emergence, we went on the #SoulofNola tour which included a private and guided tour in and around New Orleans.

In addition to great food including our annual dinner at Dooky Chase’s restaurant at 2301 Orleans Ave, we had a fabulous dinner on Saturday night courtesy of Ford — where we had the opportunity to see the new Ford commercials and upcoming digital series featuring comedian and The Real host, Loni Love.

On the note of Ford, they had a lot going on at their booth at the Convention Center.

“Ford Motor Company celebrated the July Fourth weekend in New Orleans as part of the annual ESSENCE Festival®. As exclusive automotive sponsor for the ninth consecutive year, Ford provided attendees the opportunity to get up close and personal with its latest lineup of vehicles, including the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition and 2018 Ford F-150.”


NEW ORLEANS – JUNE 30: Chaka Khan during an interview at a Sirius/XM radio interview at the Ford Motor Company booth during the 2017 Essence Festival at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (Photo by Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup)

Legendary singer Chaka Khan debuted the world premiere of her latest single during her live interview with SiriusXM from the Ford booth at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

NEW ORLEANS – JUNE 30: (L-R) Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Lorenz Tate, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish at a Sirius/XM radio interview at the Ford Motor Company booth during the 2017 Essence Festival. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup)

The cast of Girls Trip including Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, Larenz Tate and Tiffany Haddishwere also spotted onstage at the Ford booth.

NEW ORLEANS – JULY 1: Activites at the Ford Motor Company booth during the 2017 Essence Festival. (Photo by Tonya Wise/PictureGroup)

Festivalgoers had the opportunity to register to test drive the newest vehicles in the Ford lineup, including the 2017 Ford Explorer, 2017 Ford Escape and 2017 Ford Fusion. One lucky registrant was presented keys to a brand-new 2018 Ford Mustang on Sunday by comedienne and daytime talk show host Loni Love and Raj Register, Ford Multicultural Communications Manager.

In addition to all of this, here’s a few notables I ran into during the course of the weekend – via exclusive interviews and backstage.

Oh a few of my favs…


And finally…

As fars as the concerts, here’s my official recap:

The 2017 Essence Festival wrapped up on Sunday night rounding out a stellar three-night concert full of legends, reunions, and fan favorites.

No mountain was too high for Friday night’s headliner, Diana Ross. The seventy-three-year-old legend made it her mission to offer the crowd some of her most notable hits, including “More Today than Yesterday,” “My World Is Empty Without You,” “Baby Love,” and “Stop In The Name of Love.”

Although it was her first appearance on the main stage for Essence, Ross handled her set like a true veteran with three glamorous outfit changes and moments of requested crowd participation. As the headliner, Ross was preceded by Rhonda Ross, Afrika Mamas, Junior, India.Arie, and John Legend, the latter of whom managed to bring the audience to its feet several times during his set.

Saturday night, Mary J. Blige brought down the Superdome by taking fans on an emotional journey through her music. With the longest set of the night, Blige began in the 90s with songs like “My Life,” “You Bring Me Joy” and “I’m Going Down.” The singer also performer some new music from her recently released album, Strength of a Woman.

“Ladies, I’m going to talk to the guys tonight for y’all,” she told the roaring crowd.  “You can only have one queen, not two queens, not three queens. One queen,” she emphasized. “Take care of home and you’ll be all right.”

Ari Lennox, Monica, Jazmine Sullivan, and Jill Scott also performed that night, with Chaka Khanclosing the show and bringing all the the previous main stage singers out to perform her classic 1978 hit, “I’m Every Woman.”

The last night of Essence Fest seemed to have “no limit” on surprises and disasters. Master P. reunited with his No Limit soldiers on stage, which included Silkk da Shocka, Mia X, Mystikal, and even Snoop Dogg. However, they were so horrible – most just laughed and shared their unrehersed shenanigans on the gram.

Prior to Master P.’s set, Ithwasa Lekhansela, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue band, and Solange graced the stage. Solange gave fans an official “seat at the table,” showing off dynamic choreography and singing the crowd’s favorite, “Cranes in the Sky.”

To wrap up the third night, Chance the Rapper energetically hit the stage performing songs from his 2016 album, Coloring Book. During his set, Chance engaged the crowd and referred to his 1-year-old daughter Kensli throughout the night.

As the headliner and closer of the evening, Chance took the Superdome crowd to church with his spiritually-infused rhymes and messages. “How many of you want to go to heaven,” he asked as part of the introduction to his song, “Blessings.”

Before Chance left the 2017 Essence Fest stage, the Grammy winner made sure he gave fans two songs they’d been waitng for: “No Problem,” and DJ Khaled‘s “I’m the One.”

Well that’s all for now. Stay tuned for more exclusives and travel updates!