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Bruno Mars, Patti Labelle, John Legend and more set to perform on first-ever virtual Essence Festival

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS

For the first time in 26 years, the Essence Festival will go virtual, due to COVID-19. 

Bruno Mars was expected to make his performance debut at the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture. Instead, the virtual celebration will take place over two back-to-back weekends of music, empowerment and culture on June 25-28 and July 2-5.

Hosted by Loni Love, the evenings will also feature musical performances from the legendary Patti LabelleJohn LegendIndia.ArieKelisSwizz BeatzDoug E FreshAndra DayNasBurna Boy and more. 

Representing for the city of New Orleans will be PJ MortonMaster PBig FreediaTank, and The Bangas, in a special tribute along with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

You can expect to be uplifted by the voices of Kierra SheardKirk Franklin, The Clark SistersJonathan McReynolds, and more during Sunday’s gospel celebration, including a sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes and Bishop Paul S. Morton.

Speakers include Stephen and Ayesha CurryTeyana Taylor, activist Tamika MalloryNaomi Campbell, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and more.  Essence’s #BlackVotesMatter365 voting hub will also be a key feature of the fest.

In addition, Essence’s Unstoppable Collective launched its $100 Million equity and justice benefit initiative, to benefit black- and minority-owned businesses.

The virtual Essence Festival will stream live on

By Rachel George
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