Bringing ESSENCE Magazine from the Page to the Stage

ESSENCE Festival

With its 20th anniversary coming up next year, ESSENCE Communications made a pair of bold moves in 2013 to revitalize its popular music festival.

First, a new name.  “ESSENCE Music Festival” was rebranded “ESSENCE Festival.”  It was a decision made to position the massive event as one that offers a range of quality programming in addition to the top tier artists who perform nightly at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Second, the Time Inc. property decided it was time to seek a new Production Services partner.  They needed a firm that offered the talent and experience to bring efficiency, technology and innovation to the forefront of ESSENCE Festival.  A company with the creativity to produce a fresh experience for attendees.  And most importantly, they wanted to work with a team that understood how to bring the ESSENCE brand more to life at its signature event.

After a broad, national search, ESSENCE Communications chose Solomon Group.

As one of the largest annual events in North America, ESSENCE Festival required over six months of planning.  Besides the daytime programming offered at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and the nighttime entertainment that takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, our client wanted to create a third destination for its attendees.  Beginning in 2013, ESSENCE Festival included a Family Reunion Day on July 4th at Woldenberg Park. Solomon Group produced an entirely new event that included live music, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities and plenty of New Orleans food.  And though roughly 15,000 were expected to attend, over 55,000 came through the gates.

Solomon Group provided several solutions to enhance both our client’s brand and the audience experience at the festival.  Our fabrication facility created and installed a 13-foot tall ESSENCE logo that was positioned on an elevated truss structure and served as a striking backdrop to Center Stage inside the Convention Center.  We also created a digital “tunnel” to help audience members move between the Empowerment Experience and the main show floor.  It not only improved audience flow between the two attractions, but with animated projections that included photos and inspirational quotes from famous African-Americans, the tunnel served as another opportunity to put the ESSENCE back into ESSENCE Festival.

In addition to providing all of the live production for the event, Solomon Group was responsible for executing nearly every aspect of ESSENCE Festival.  Sponsorship activation, venue management, logistics, security, credentials, transportation and artist relations were all handled by an organized and coordinated Solomon Group team of specialists.  In the end, over half a million attendees watched 55 artists on eight stages at three venues across the popular, four-day event.

What WE Did

  • Creative Development, Design + Direction
  • Live Event Production
  • Project Management + Consultation
  • Technical Direction
  • Lighting Design + Systems
  • Creative LED Displays
  • Multimedia A/V Production
  • Scenic Design + Custom Fabrication
  • Projection
  • Sound Design
  • Show Logistics + Management

What They Said

“We’re very pleased and proud of our production partner, Solomon Group.  I think that we’ve seen across this festival week that we made a very, very good choice.” 

—JOY COLLINS, General Manager, ESSENCE Communications, Inc.