Janet Jackson, Fantasia, Teddy Riley & More Rock The House At Essence Festival’s Final Night

Janet Jackson Paid Tribute To Her Father Joe, On Final Night Of Essence Fest

On the final night of the Essence Festival, the artists brought the Old School back.

New Jack Swing architect Teddy Riley brought out a roster of 80s and 90s artists so deep that it turned into a mini concert in its own right: Aaron Hall, Ginuwine, Tank, SWV, MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, Dave Hollister, Doug E. Fresh, Wreckx-n-Effect, Aaron Hall and Keith Sweat all took the stage during his epic hour and a half set.

Next up was Fantasia, whose energetic performance paid tribute to her brother – who’d recently recovered after a debilitating accident – in front of a crowd that included Mona Scott Young, Tisha Campbell, Tichina Martin, “RHOA’s”Cynthia Bailey and Teyana Taylor.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JULY 08: A general view of the atmosphere during the 2018 Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 8, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic)

Essence Festival sponsor Ford also delighted the crowd by giving away a kitted out 2019 Mustang to a lucky audience member. “Insecure’s” Yvonne Orji helped give away the car – which includes Waze and handless text message capability – to a lucky woman from Michigan.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JULY 08: Fantasia performs onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 8, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic)

Last but not least was an incredible performance from Janet Jackson, who defied her 52 years by dancing almost the entire set and singing pitch perfect to her hit songs from the last 30 years. The singer made her way through her catalog of hits, like “If,” “Nasty,” and “ before telling the crowd she was still dealing with her grief from the death of her father, Joe Jackson, two weeks ago.

“I wanna take a minute to talk about my father,” Jackson told the more than 80,000 strong crowd. “To be quite honest, it’s been really hard for me. You know, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to move forward. If I should cancel this festival, cancel the entire tour. And I talked to my brother, and we started to talk about my father’s strength – he was very strong – and if it wasn’t for his drive and strength, we wouldn’t have the success. We’re a black family that came from Gary, Indiana, and we broke all kinds of records around the globe.”

“My father was a great man and my brother, he said, ‘If he were here now listening to this conversation, what do you think he would say to you?’” Jackson continued. “And I think my father would have said, ‘Janet, please finish what you started.’”

Hit the flip for more pics from Essence Fest’s closing night:




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