2015 Essence Festival Performance Lineup Announced

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The 2015 ESSENCE Festival has revealed its first round of performers. Set to take place at The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans from July 2-5, over 40 artists will perform across five stages.

This year’s performers include Mary J. Blige, India.Arie, Trombone Shorty, Floetry, Erykah Badu, Elle Varner, Esperanza Spalding, Kelly Price, Raheem DeVaughn, Mali Music, Eric Roberson, Teedra Moses, Avery*Sunshine, Kindred The Family Soul, Goapele, Robert Glasper, Tweet, Jeff Bradshaw, Bilal and Tank & The Bangas.

More performers will be announced at a later date.

Keithan is the founder/editor-in-chief of Rated R&B

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Janet Jackson Covers Essence Magazine’s Happiness Issue

Janet covers July/August 2018 issue of Essence Magazine

Janet Jackson is all about positivity. The music icon graces the cover of Essence’s July/August issue, which is all about happiness.

Instead of doing a traditional interview as a cover story, Jackson decided to pen a heartfelt essay to black women titled “Letter From My Heart.” In the transparent letter, she reveals herself like never before. She talks about lessons she learned from her childhood to adulthood, including her early struggles with depression, low self-esteem and failed relationships to her eventual growth as an artist, discovery of peace and learning to “fully embrace God’s love.”

Here are excerpts from the letter:

In Her Childhood: “I was happy when my brothers came home from performing on the road. I was happy when my mother lavished me with love. But I wasn’t happy with the way I looked…”

In Her Teens: “Happiness came when people asked me to perform…but I was happiest when I was pleasing others and not myself. An older and wiser Janet might have said, ‘True happiness is knowing you’re doing the best you can…’”

Photo Credit: Essence

In Her Thirties: “These were difficult years, when I struggled with depression. The struggle was intense. I could analyze the source of my depression forever. Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards. And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism. Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition. Thankfully, I found my way way through it…”

Today, at 52: “Now the height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo, or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness. When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere. Happiness is in gratitude to God…”

The July/August issue is now on newsstands. Next up, Jackson will headline the 2018 Essence Festival on Sunday, July 8 in New Orleans.

Mary J. Blige Lands Leading Role in Horror Thriller ‘Body Cam’

Mary J. Blige plans to take Hollywood by storm in a leading role. The R&B legend will star in Body Cam, a horror thriller slated to be issued by Paramount’s Paramount Players division.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film, which stars Blige as an LAPD police officer, captures several officers being tormented by a malevolent spirit that is connected to the murder of a black youth at the hands of two white cops, all of which are caught on a body cam video that was destroyed in a cover-up. Blige, who is rattled by the nightmares, investigates the cover-up.

Directed by Malik Vitthal and produced by Matt Kaplan, Body Cam is described as a combination of films Get Out and End of Watch. The spec script was written by Richmond Riedel, and rewritten by Nicholas McCarthy and John Ridley.

Aside from preparing for her first major acting part, Blige is filming Netflix’s comic adaptation series The Umbrella Academy.

In March, Blige starred in Sherlock Gnomes as Irene Adler. She received several prestigious accolades and recognition including two Oscar nominations for her role and contribution to Dee Rees’ film adaptation of Mudbound.

Macy Gray Announces Tenth Album ‘Ruby’ and Shares New Song ‘Sugar Daddy’

Macy Gray satisfies her sweet tooth on her new single “Sugar Daddy.”

On the sassy trap record, co-written by Meghan Trainor, the raspy vocalist tells her sugar plug to supply her needs in candy; not dollars. “And I know I got it bad, I got a problem,” Gray sings, “But I’ll take them cavities long as I get them from you.”

Along with releasing “Sugar Daddy,” Gray shares its accompanying visual. The Christian Lamb–directed video, which stars Kevin Ross, is an ode the 1972 Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues, which starred music icon Diana Ross as the lady of the hour.

“Sugar Daddy” is the lead single off Gray’s new album, Ruby, which is set to arrive on September 7. The album will mark her first release since 2016’s Stripped jazz covers album. In addition to Trainor, the Tommy Park Lumpkins co-produced record will feature Gary Clark Jr., Johan Carlsson and Tommy Brown.

Call on your “Sugar Daddy” below.