Sunday, July 8, marked the last night of the Essence Music Festval for this year. The main stage had some heavy hitting performers including Aretha Franklin. In addition to helping close the music festivity, the soul icon was given "The Power Award" during her performance.
The Queen of Soul stepped onto the stage after the opening performances by Kirk Franklin and Fantasia Barrino. The highlight of Aretha's performance was her tribute to the late Whitney Houston. The legendary singer sang "I Will Always Love You" as she played the piano.
After her performance, R&B divas took the stage to perform tributes to some dearly departed icons. Syleena Johnson performed "At Last" for Etta James, KeKe Wyatt sang "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" for Whitney, and Faith Evans performed "Reach and Touch Somebody's Hand" for Nick Ashford. The tributes were followed by a performance from Chaka Khan to cap off the festival.
The festival started last Thursday with "New & Next". It's a show dedicated to up-and-coming talents like Diggy Simmons, son of Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, OMG Girlz, a new hip-hop group made up of three girls in their teens, and Katlyn Nichol, a 14-year-old whose star is on the rise after catching the attention of her idol, Mary J. Blige.
The four-day festival included live performances by Mary J., D'Angelo, and Trey Songz as well. Other famous artists scattered throughout the different stages of the festival were the likes of Estelle, Eve, Doug E. Fresh, and Salt-N-Pepa's Spinderella.