I should preface this diary by sharing that I’ve attended Essence Music Festival four times in the last six years and it is by far one of my favorite weekends of the year. If it were not for the Taste of Chicago (Chicago being my hometown) I would hands down attend Essence Music Festival every year without question.

This year I had the amazing opportunity to attend the festival on behalf of Ford, one the of the major sponsors of the Essence Music Festival. While most attendees were probably super excited for the opportunity to win a brand new Ford vehicle I was more excited about the amazing car service provided throughout New Orleans for the weekend. If you’ve ever been to Essence, you know NOLA in July is HOT. And I mean HOT! What a joy it was to hop in the cool air-conditioning of the Ford Edge and Explorer on our way to dinner, the convention center, the concerts and about town.  When it came to the sweltering heat, I barely even noticed it!

Saturday morning I had the opportunity to test drive the new Ford Explorer and it felt light and easy. Now that I live my days traveling by subway cars in New York City, I can honestly say being behind the wheel of the Ford Explorer made me feel powerful and in control. It’s a feeling I’m often missing commuting the hectic streets of Manhattan.

While hanging out at the Ford booth, I spotted Tank, Eric Benet and Matthew Knowles hanging out. The crowds swarmed to catch a glimpse and to sign up for their chance to win a 2012 Ford Focus. The giveaway from the mainstage of the Superdome on Saturday night made a lucky winner extremely happy (unfortunately said winner was not me).

My personal highlight of the weekend? Well duh. Kanye, of course! He’s was absolutely amazing! Yes I’m a stalker fan, but even Ye haters would have to admit that his current stage show is an artistic wonder. I absolutely loved every second of it, from the dancers to his simple but oh so stylish blazers.

A literal who’s who of Black America was there from Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton and Mary J. Blige to Roland Martin, Ledisi, New Edition and more.  Star gazing and gossiping was in abundance backstage in The Belvedere Lounge.

Of course there was plenty of amazing eating and drinking at New Orleans hot spots and lots of shenanigans on Bourbon Street. I would share more but “what happens in “Nawlins stays in “Nawlins.”

If I tried to relive the entire week, I certainly wouldn’t be able to put together an accurate timeline on my own. It was a three day blur of fun and I can’t wait until next year. Until then, check out this exclusive footage and relive all the amazing moments from this year.

Kanye West Performs at Essence Music Festival, Closes With “Hey Mama” [PHOTOS]

All The Gossip From Backstage In The Belvedere Lounge At Essence Music Festival [Photos]

Usher Does “1,000 Crunches” To Prepare For Essence Festival Performance

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