On Day 3, at 11:54 p.m. when rising from a platform underneath the stage, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul emerges everyone knew it was Mary J. time. Performing at the 20th anniversary of the Essence Festival, MJB belted out hit after hit for 90 minutes including, “The One,” “Just Fine,” “Real Love” and not to mention spitting a Biggie verse or two in the first 10 minutes.
The Essence Festival’s 20th anniversary set a record for annual attendance, with more than 550,000 participants celebrating four days of R&B music, community and black culture at the New Orleans’ convention center and Superdome, organizers and city officials said Monday. That’s about 10,000 more than attended the 2013 festival, which included a sold-out performance by Beyoncé.
Mary J. Blige belted out the hits from her 12 albums, one of more than 80 musical performances highlighted by Prince, Richie, Charlie Wilson, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Trey Songz and The Roots and 150 speakers addressing everything from solutions to crime and violence to growing entrepreneurs and maintaining healthy relationships.
About an hour into her performance, after a quick change, Mary re-emerges in a sexy, sophisticated dark teal jumpsuit with gold buttons and laced sleeves, rocking stiletto black boots and a black fedora. When MJB performed, “I’m Goin’ Down,” you know the Dome was filled with Mary J fans as it sounded like the whole arena sang practically the entire song word for word, while she adjusted her mic pack. She even sang her new single “Suitcase,” from her just-released “Think Like A Man Too” soundtrack album.
At 43, MJB, shows just why she is the one and only Queen of Hip-Hop Soul as she walked away with the performance of the weekend.