Rising R&B stars debut at Essence Fest in Big Easy
Singer Coco Jones performs at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, Thursday, July 5, 2012. This is the first day of the four day music festival. (Photo by Bill Haber/Invision/AP)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The first of four nights spotlighting R&B music kicked off Thursday with performances at the Essence Music Festival by industry newcomers, including the Disney Channel's Coco Jones and rapper Diggy Simmons.
Opening day was all about recognizing the young and rising stars to the music scene, while the rest of the weekend was geared toward veterans in the industry, including Aretha Franklin, Charlie Wilson and Mary J. Blige.
For the first time in more than two years, fans will also get to see rap artist Eve, who isn't calling her Essence appearance a "comeback," but rather a "reintroduction."
Though out of the American music spotlight for more than two years, the rapper and actress has regularly performed in venues across Europe and Asia. Still, she said she's excited about her U.S. return and Sunday closing night performance at the Superdome, which will include two shows in one of the music festival's SuperLounges.
Diggy Simmons performs at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, Thursday, July 5, 2012. (Photo by Bill Haber/Invision/AP)
"I'm happy to be a part of such an amazing event," she said. "I've always wanted to go (to the festival) just as a fan, but now, to be able to go and perform, I know it will be great. Everybody I've talked to who has done it said they've enjoyed it. I know it's gonna be fun."
Eve said she has no doubt that her show will reinforce the decision by event organizers to book her — even though she's been under the radar.
"They will see that I haven't lost a thing, haven't missed a step, haven't skipped a beat," she said. "I'm sure there will be some who haven't seen me live in years or maybe ever, but I'm most comfortable on stage and I'm sure I will get them in."
Coco's high energy Essence debut included a cover of "1, 2 Step," the hip-hop song recorded by Ciara and Missy Elliott. The set was full of "fun songs about empowerment, having a party, living a stress-free life. It's all good messages."