DJ Soul Sister, Justin Shiels, and Fresh Johnson share their top tips for navigating the Superdome (and the Superlounges).
Ironically, you can’t boil ESSENCE down to a single word.
“ESSENCE Music Festival is a cross-generational experience celebrating black identity,” says Justin Shiels, a creative strategist and founder of the weekly lifestyle publication goINVADE, offering a “rebellious and optimistic” take on culture. Turns out, those two words are pretty fitting for Shiels himself.
He isn’t afraid to stick it to Starbucks or venture outside the CBD when looking for a fried chicken fix, and he’s quick to acknowledge jazz getting its due at ESSENCE.
The ESSENCE speaker series is all about empowerment. Whose presentation are you most looking forward to?
I’m personally excited about India.Arie and Iyanla Vanzant. These women are truly an inspiration, building careers around their uplifting messages.
I also secretly am excited to see Cynthia Bailey and Kandi Burruss. The Real Housewives of Atlanta is my guilty little pleasure…
It’s beautiful to see so many people from across the United States converging in the city of New Orleans. But music is important, too. Top acts?
With artists like Common, Erykah Badu, and Missy Elliot, I’m looking forward to having a blast from the past. Then we have Esperanza Spalding and Robert Glasper. It’s nice to see that jazz has a place at ESSENCE.
Festivals… well, we’ve got our share. What makes ESSENCE special?
More than anything, ESSENCE Music Festival is a cross-generational experience celebrating black identity. It’s beautiful to see so many people from across the United States converging in the city of New Orleans.
Hunger strikes mid fest. Where are you headed in the CBD?
Ursa Major. [It’s] a world cuisine restaurant with an astrological twist in the South Market District.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House. It’s a cab ride to the French Quarter, but it is hands-down the best fried chicken and red beans in the city!
Borgne [in the CBD] has an amazing happy hour with delicious cocktails and hearty portions. You should also order the beignets at The Ritz-Carlton and grab a Sazerac at The Roosevelt New Orleans. Cochon Butcher for the meat lovers, and Carmo for vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes.
For coffee, I recommend Haro Coffee and Chocolate and Merchant. These coffee shops will convince you to dump Starbucks for good.
Check out Shiels’ publication, goINVADE for insider events and happenings in the city.
Photography by: Paul Broussard