Interesting… I wonder if the presence/emergence of black hosts/commentators on the network (Al Sharpton, Tamron Hall, Melissa Harris-Perry, Joy Ann Reid)  is in part responsible for this partnership… 

Details via press release below:

The Nation’s Most Influential African-American Women’s Brand and The Country’s Fastest Growing News Network Will Partner for Three Days of Live Programming at the Premier Forum for Black Women Featuring MSNBC Hosts and Contributors Rev. Al Sharpton, Tamron Hall, Melissa Harris-Perry, Chris Matthews, Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Ed Schultz and Joy Ann Reid

NEW YORK, May 20, 2013 — ESSENCE, the number one media brand dedicated to African-American women, and MSNBC, the premier cable destination for in-depth analysis, insightful political commentary and informed perspectives, are teaming up at the 2013 ESSENCE Festival during Fourth of July weekend for unprecedented live coverage of headliners and newsmakers.  MSNBC will broadcast live from the ESSENCE Festival daily from Friday, July 5, to Sunday, July 7. In addition to covering the Festival, MSNBC will host a unique fan experience that will allow festival goers to join in efforts to strengthen and empower our communities. 

The announcement was made today by Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications Inc. and Phil Griffin, President, MSNBC.

“MSNBC’s live programming during the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, from the heart of the ESSENCE Festival, underscores their commitment to broaden the national reach and impact of conversations with thought-leaders, politicians, authors, celebrities and artists who will address the critical issues facing our communities—especially those of people of color and women,” said Ebanks.

“MSNBC is committed to community and conversation—everything the ESSENCE Festival represents,” said Griffin. “We’re proud to partner with ESSENCE to highlight the ideas and issues of value to our audiences.”

The ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage, the core of the annual Essence Festival, will feature icons, newsmakers, national leaders, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, celebrities, journalists, educators, and experts to showcase the many dimensions of the African-American community including a central focus on information to improve women’s day-to-day lives.

The ESSENCE Festival is the ultimate entertainment, inspiration and cultural destination, hosting over 400,000 attendees annually. What began in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ESSENCE magazine has now grown into one of the country’s “Top 10 Leading Brand Events,” as designated by Advertising Age.  The ESSENCE Festival is the nation’s largest annual gathering of African-American music and culture.   

The ESSENCE Festival expanded to four days in 2012. This year’s performers include Beyonce, Maxwell, Jill Scott, Brandy, LL Cool J, Trey Songz, New Edition, Janelle Monae and Jodi Watley to name a few.  The Festival will kick off with a Family Reunion Day on Thursday, July 4, and culminates on Sunday, July 7 with an all-star gospel tribute to Tramaine Hawkins and Donnie McClurkin during the day at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and Beyonce closing that evening at the Louisiana Superdome.  

For more information about the 2013 ESSENCE Festival, visit, join the Festival community: follow us onTwitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2013 ESSENCE Festival on Facebook.

Sponsors of the 2013 ESSENCE Festival include presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and major sponsors Ford, McDonald’s, My Black Is Beautiful, StateFarm, Verizon and Walmart as well as official sponsors Coors Light and Visa Prepaid.