Flashback: All the Stars Who've Rocked the Essence Fest
Carey made her grand entrance to the Essence Fest stage in 2016 with the help of six buff male dancers, who carried the legendary performer on a chaise lounge. Did you expect anything less from the queen?
The veteran hip-hop hitmaker made her Essence Festival debut in 2015, a major moment considering she's rarely made public appearances in recent years.
The Essence Festival is happening June 30-July 3 in New Orleans; get your tickets here.
Day, whose vocals and style have been compared to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, gave an unforgettable performance during her first Essence Festival appearance in 2015 – and is set to return in 2016.
Sadly, Songz kept his shirt on for his 2015 performance (so out of character for the "Slow Motion" crooner!), which he elevated to new heights after bringing out New Orleans rap legend Juvenile (not pictured) to join him on stage.
"It's truly an honor because all of my family is from New Orleans," the R&B singer said in an interview ahead of his 2015 set, adding that his family has been attending the fest since the '90s.
Monée brought a high-energy performance to the 2014 Essence Festival. Despite rocking the main stage that year, the singer says she'll always remember her very first fest performance, which took place on a smaller stage and was way more intimate. "We had a real party and it was an experience I don't think I'll ever forget," she told Essence.
Equipped with an oversized hat and facial gems, Badu also performed for the festival's 20th anniversary in 2014, bringing eager audience members on stage to help belt out her song "Bag Lady."
While hitting up the 2014 Essence Festival, Common revealed whether or not he plays his own music when he's with a date. "I'll play it for a lady friend if I want her to hear the new music and hear what it sounds like … but I'm not going to be that self-indulgent," joked the sultry singer, who cites jazz music and Frank Ocean as his go-tos.
After taking a four-year hiatus from the fest, Richie was the closing act at the 20th anniversary celebration in 2014. "I'm just gonna keep playing, after all it's the anniversary. So I'm gonna keep playing til I get tired and that's just how it's gonna be," he told the crowd.
MARY J. BLIGE
Decked out in a white jumpsuit and gold accessories, Blige was a vision when she hit the stage in 2014. "It's so good to be back," she told festivalgoers. "We ain't done yet."
With her single "Say Yes" dropping that same year, Williams was invited to perform new music for fans back in 2014.
During his 2014 set with Chic, Rodgers was joined on stage by headliner Prince to cover David Bowie's "Let's Dance."
Braxton brought girl power full force for her 2014 performance.
TARAJI P. HENSON
Before hitting it even bigger with Empire, Henson greeted the crowd with her infectious smile in 2014.
The crooner gave fans a preview of his long-awaited album, BLACKsummers'night, during his set in 2013.
For his headlining performance in 2011, Usher performed a slew of his hits, ending his set with a three-song medley of Michael Jackson favorites.
Jackson owned the 2010 fest with her crowd-rousing music and serious stage presence.
For her first Essence Festival performance since going solo, Beyoncé took the stage with her dancers in 2009, and was invited back again in 2013.
How's this for a throwback? West, dressed in a beige blazer and jeans, performed songs off his new album Late Registration at the 2005 fest.
The late performer, who headlined the 20th year of the Essence Festival, also served as a headliner in 2004, when the fest marked its 10th anniversary.