Essence music festival to boost local economy and empower musicians

AfroSoul performing at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

The City of Durban and Time Inc.’s (NYSE: TIME), announced the return dates for the Essence Festival Durban, South Africa edition, which will follow this summer’s annual Essence New Orleans Festival.

Taking place from September 26 to 1 October 2017, at the Durban ICC and DEC, the Essence Durban Festival will feature world-renowned pastor, author and filmmaker, Bishop TD Jakes. 

For over 20 years, the festival has been celebrating music, urban culture and impacting the local economy of New Orleans, Louisiana. The multi-day summer music festival has established itself as a must-attend event attracting over 550, 000 attendees from around the world to New Orleans and generating about $200 million for that community.

This year’s Essence New Orleans Festival, which already took place, featured South Africa’s Africa Mamas; Ithwasa Lekhansela and Afro Soul, in festival that includes the likes of Diana Ross, Solange, John Legend and many more.

In September, the festival returns to Durban, under the banner of Firing Africa with Inspiration. Last year, the festival drew over 60,000 attendees from across the country.

“The inaugural Essence Festival Durban was an immense success, generating over R231 million contribution to the eThekwini’s GDP,” said eThekwini mayor, Cllr Zandile Gumede. “We are thrilled to once again bring this exchange of cultural experience to our shores and ensure that there are sustained employment opportunities,” she added.

The festival follows a similar format of the annual New Orleans event namely; ‘engagement with a purpose.’ The festival is not only about music but has an innovative component that includes business showcases, art, lifestyle, empowerment, small business development, and entertainment.

The multi-day event brings international and local performers. This year it will also feature motivational seminars, from international pastor and author, Bishop TD Jakes, and American civil rights activist, Reverend Al Sharpton.

Bishop TD Jakes is one of America’s most inspiring preachers who has also captured the hearts and minds a global audience including South Africans. His charismatic engagements are bound to enthral all audiences. His presence at this year’s festival is considered to be a coup for the organisers. Rev Sharpton is a renowned baptist minister, political activist, television and radio talk show host and a former White House adviser.

Acting deputy city manager, Phillip Sithole said, “The festival brings great benefits for residents of eThekwini Municipality and South African musicians who are bridging the gap between international and local music. We are really excited to have artists from our backyard, being at the pinnacle part of this festival because this is an expression of true cultural exchange and uplifting both the reputation of our artists and our country simultaneously.”

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