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Nas Pays Tribute to the Late Maya Angelou During Essence Festival Performance

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Rapper Nas Pays tribute to the Late Maya Angelou during commemorative 20th Essence Festival.


Reported by Kacie Whaley

The popular African American publication Essence kicked off the 20th Annual Essence Festival last night in New Orleans at the Superdome.

The festival’s line-up was quite impressive, with an opening performance from soulful rocker Jesse Boykins III. He sang tunes from his new album, Love Apparatus.  Jazmine Sullivan, who has only recently returned to music from a four-year hiatus, hit the stage and performed her hit “Lions, Tigers, and Bears,” and a cover of “Killing Me Softly.”  K. Michelle sang her popular song “V.S.O.P” and had some words for her fans in the crowd. “Ya’ll could relate.  Ya’ll just as crazy as me,” she said to fans about her controversial moments.

Trey Songs was up next.  He performed his new single “Oh Nana” and caused the crowd to go wild when he took off his shirt.

The highly anticipated finale was given to Nas.  With the 20th Anniversary of his ground-breaking album Illmatic, the hip hop legend performed several of its songs, including “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” and “N.Y. State of Mind.”

“I’d like to dedicate this to the queen, Maya Angelou,” said Nas before he performed his hit, “One Mic.”

The Essence Festival is not only about showcasing music artists and celebrities.  The event also allows several inspirational speakers to hit the stage.  Iyanla Vanzant will be gracing the stage, as well as many gospel artists such as James Fortune, Donny McClurkin, T.J. Jakes, and Kim Burrell.  Alicia Keys will help present a segment called “Through Love of Self, Family and Community, Empowering Black Women to End AIDS.”

Other performers include:  Prince, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott, Tank, Tamar Braxton, August Alsina, Elle Varner, Leela James, Sevyn Streeter, and Raheem Devaughn.

The event will be running throughout the Fourth of July weekend.  Some performances are streaming live on, as well as comments from the celebrity attendees.