Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj to headline 2022 Essence Festival 

The four-day entertainment festival kicks off with a show from comedian Kevin Hart on Thursday and ends with New Edition.

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After two years on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Essence Festival is returning to New Orleans this summer with in-person events. 

The four-day entertainment festival will kick off with a performance from comedian Kevin Hart on Thursday, June 30 at the Smoothie King Center as part of his Reality Check Tour, per Nola.com. 

Rap goddess Nicki Minaj is scheduled to perform when the venue switches to the Caesar’s Superdome on Friday, July 1. The next night will feature the incomparable Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson (left) and Nicki Minaj (right) have reportedly been set to each headline concerts at late June’s four-night 2022 Essence Festival in New Orleans. (Photos: David Becker/Getty Images and Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

“We are excited to welcome the family back live to New Orleans and thrilled to connect with more of our diasporic family through new digital experiences,” said Essence CEO Caroline Wanga in a press release. “Whether it be those that have three years of outfits reflective of the Festival tradition that was disrupted by the pandemic, or those who will have their inaugural Festival experience in 2022, all are invited.”

Minaj will likely draw from her slate of 10 Grammy Award nominations for her set, and Jackson recently declared her “Control” again with a Lifetime/A&E documentary about her life called simply, Janet. The iconic performer previously appeared at the festival in 2010 and 2018.

Jackson’s performance will headline on Saturday, July 2, followed the next night by New Edition, who are currently on the road with Jodeci and Charlie Wilson as part of “The Culture Tour.” 

Among the guest performers still unnamed, the Superdome will also host sets by The Isley Brothers, The Roots & Friends, singers Summer Walker and Jazmine Sullivan, plus DJ D-Nice. The DJ won the NAACP Image Award in 2021 for Entertainer of the Year after entertaining in-home masses via his Club Quarantine Sessions on Instagram during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The theme of this year’s Essence Festival is “It’s the Black Joy for Me,” and it will also feature its signature conversations at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, as well as an enhanced digital presence to appeal to the audiences who have supported the last two virtual years. 

“It is critical that we understand that what we deliver with this festival, live and virtually, also impacts Black economic inclusion,” Wanga said. “The ability to have those that benefit from this be Black businesses is my favorite manifestation of our 2022 festival theme. See you in July.”

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