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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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#ACCESS901: Essence/Ford event raises the bar. Who’s got next?

The Essence/Ford My City, 4 Ways event was on a higher plane and well done all around. And while I had a hand in it (on the PR side), I’m saying this as a person who has either worked on events, partied or attended events in New York, Atlanta, LA, Chicago and even Paris.

Memphis shimmered and shimmied in a whole different light. Essence and Ford highlighted some of our best and brightest in the form of Keia Johnson (music influencer), Karleen Roy (style influencer), Chef D. Arthur (food influencer) and Jamond Bullock (art influencer). Respectively – great voice and sweet personality; burgeoning style star; YUM – that is all; incredible live art. These guys did us proud.

The national talent took me back to my heyday when I was a young’un running around NY trying to be fabulous. June Ambrose was/is stylist goals. Remember Diddy’s iconic shiny suit? All her. Oh, and she validated my personal style. WINNING!

Kelis was (and still is) lady BAE. Her milkshake is bringing ‘em ALL to the yard and now, so is her delicious food. (PS y’all, she smelled SOOOO GOOD. Seriously girl crushin’ over here!) I even ran into several friends and colleagues who I had not seen in years, since moving home. That was a pleasant surprise for me too!

Later in the evening, I saw Kim Perry (wife of Elliot), who lived in N.Y. and N.J. during the same time that I did. When I thanked her for coming, she immediately said, “That took me back to the Shark Bar in the 90s!”

I laughed because that is so true, that and Mecca on the lower east side. For those who haven’t been there, think: “NY Undercover,” “The Best Man,” “Brown Sugar.” The restaurants, parties, clubs or bars they frequented had a similar vibe and experience. It was a very cosmopolitan feel for our “little, big city.”

More from Kim: “That event was all things AHHH-MAZING! Such a cool and very necessar) vibe! Quite refreshing for me personally, and unlike most of the events here in Memphis that I’ve have attended.”

Indeed, Essence came through and represented but so did we, Memphis! From the vendors, including our iconic “MANE” tees (bought one immediately) to the well over 500 day-revelers.  Memphians came out strong, dressed to the nines, serving and slaying.

Local 24 on-air personality Rudy Williams said, “Essence’s My City, 4 Ways brought out the brilliance of some of Memphis’ vibrant culture. The national talent that came in for the event recognized it immediately. One of the first things creative genius June Ambrose told me was that she loved this city.”

Sure did. Y’all had her up on stage trying to do this line dance aerobics with you! June and Essence editor Charreah Jackson were having a good ole time too, with the authenticity and stylized grit of Memphians in full effect.

“The event in Memphis this weekend was like getting to meet a long-lost family member,” said V101 personality Stormy T. “Memphis was so happy to see Essence bring this event to our city for the first time. It was so rich with our culture and so Memphis. Thank you, Essence.”

Chef D. Arthur said it felt like a family reunion.

“The overall event was full of so much positive energy, good vibes, and fun. It was such an amazing honor to be featured. There are so many talented creatives and influencers in Memphis, so to be chosen to represent my city on such a large platform is truly mind-blowing. Everyone from both Essence and Ford treated me like a rockstar throughout the entire process.”

Comedienne Loni Love, co-host of “The Real,” brought liveliness and levity to the party. She kept everything moving and kept the crowd tickled throughout the day. She got jokes and “retro” dances for the people. She had the mothers and aunties up on stage getting it old school style. Loved!

Then there was Ro James, who was probably one of the most anticipated acts of the day. I’m telling you, this brotha had all of the permission from most of the ladies there, including moi. He did not disappoint. Great performance.

Rudy Williams captured the day perfectly.

“Memphis got its shine Saturday. So much talent lives in the shadows of negative news, so much so that native Memphians, unfortunately, are the first to say that their hometown has nothing going for it.”

But oh yes we do. And now ya know. And so do other people! My well-travelled friend Terrence Branch was equally impressed.

“Thank you, Essence, for bringing such a great event with class to Memphis. … The eclectic vibe is one that you only get in a major city – excellent job on helping to propel Memphis to its next level!”

The bar is raised. Who’s got next? Let’s go Memphis!

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