In 2012 --
two years before the ESSENCE Music Festival’s 20th anniversary -- organizers were looking to revitalize the popular event. They made a pair of bold moves.
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 requires 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. In 2013, ESSENCE Festival added a Family Reunion Day 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.
To see more about how Solomon Group brought the “Page to the Stage” at the 2013 ESSENCE Festival, watch this: http://vimeo.com/solomongroup/essence2013.
With the record-breaking attendance and re-branding successes of 2013, ESSENCE Communications, Inc. offered Solomon Group a multi-year contract to serve as Producer of ESSENCE Festival.
To make sure the 20th Anniversary was a special celebration, ESSENCE and Solomon Group worked together to bring the event to a whole new level. How? An extra night of concerts was added to the Mainstage schedule at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. More than 80 music performances and over 150 speakers took to the festival’s 11 stages to entertain and empower visitors from around the world during Fourth of July weekend.
Once again, attendance shattered the previous record, as more than 550,000 people participated in the 20th annual ESSENCE Festival. That’s roughly 10,000 more than last year, which included a sold-out performance by Beyoncé. 2014 earned the distinction of being the largest gathering in the event's history.
“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 PROFET, General Manager, ESSENCE Communications, Inc.