En Vogue was the closing act in a two hour, Aug. 30, TV One special that included the best of the Essence Music Festival held in New Orleans. The three day even featured some of the biggest names in Black music. To name a few; Beyonce, Al Green, Pattie LaBelle, Lionel Richie, Anita Baker, John Legend, MAZE, Maxwell, Salt & Papa, Charlie Wilson, Teena Marie, Jazmine Sullivan, EnVogue, Eric Benet, Ledisi, Robin Thicke, Ne-Yo, Sharon Jones, Solange, Janelle Monae, Rachael Saadig, Lalah Hathaway, Melanie Fiona, Sierra Leaon’s all star Reggae Band, and Blind Boys from Alabama.
On opening the final night of the 2009 Essence Music Festival there was none other than En Vogue, which consisted of original members Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron, Dawn Robinson and Maxine Jones.
Though the “Free Your Mind” singers went on at the unlikely time of 7 p.m.—on a bill that included Teena Marie, Al Green, Lionel Richie and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly—they rocked the crowd at Louisiana’s super-sized Superdome with their hour-long set.
Backstage, the Grammy Award nominated-foursome described their Essence Music Fest experience as “awesome,” “wonderful” and “so much fun.” Sadly, festival-goers were not able to see them perform their biggest hit “Hold On to Your Love” because of time constrictions.
“That’s our big closing number and it was our biggest hit so we were a little disappointed we didn’t get to do it,” Heron said. But that didn’t stop the group from sharing a tidbit of the beginning of the song, a snippet of The Jackson 5’s ‘Who’s Loving You’ which they planned to dedicate to the late, great Michael Jackson.
Onstage, the funky divas performed their hit songs such as “Never Gonna Get It,” “Lies” and “Don’t Let Go,” alongside a treasure trove of cover songs by some of their favorite singers: Diana Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Cheryl Lynn’s “To Be Real,” Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” and Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade.”
Is a covers project of some kind in the works? The ladies are open to it.
“We love doing covers and I think we have probably talked about it since we started just paying tribute to some of the people that have inspired us,” Jones revealed. “It’s always a conversation of ours. A total cover album is a good idea.”
Many new-school music lovers don’t realize that acts like Destiny’s Child, SWV, 702 and Jade are a few of the girl groups that have always been vocal about being influenced by the R&B quartet. Even 12-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys.
Since joining the J Records superstar at the ‘2008 BET Awards,’ all four of the original members of En Vogue have reunited and have been performing select dates. The group recently returned from a stint in Japan and seemed very excited to be together again at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.
“It is so wonderful to be here, it’s been a long time since we were able to perform here and to be around our peers and other artists that we admire,” Jones added.
For Robinson, who left the group to pursue a solo music venture and work with Lucy Pearl, being reunited with her gal pals is a good thing.
“It’s like we never missed a beat, like seeing family that you haven’t seen in a long time, but it’s just like riding a bike…it’s normal,’ she shared.
Next year, En Vogue will celebrate their 20th anniversary in the music business.
And they are happy about it.
“I guess we love what we do and try to stay true to our music and we’re indebted to our fans and are really grateful there are still fans there,” Herron said. “We want to be able to give them what they like and something new soon.”
The group is planning to release a new single later this year.