The Essence Festival, known as "the party with a purpose", is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women. It became the largest African-American culture and music event in the United States. Locally referred to as the Essence Fest, it has been held in New Orleans, Louisiana since 1995 except in 2006, when it was held in Houston, Texas due to Hurricane Katrina's effect on New Orleans and 2020 when it was cancelled. It was also held in Durban, South Africa in 2016. The festival features artists simultaneously performing on a main stage as well as four standing-room only superlounge stages. In 2008, for the first time since its 1995 inception, the festival was not produced by the original producer team. Instead, Essence Communications, owner of the festival and the Essence magazine, contracted Rehage Entertainment Inc. Starting 2013, Solomon Group became the Producer of Essence Festival.In 2013, MSNBC broadcast live from the Essence Festival. MSNBC returned for the 2014 festival.2020 saw the event get cancelled with the COVID-19 pandemic to blame; the 26th is deferred to 2021.
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