The 2023 ONE Music Fest was one of its most successful to date, and brought out thousands of concert-goers to Atlanta’s heralded Piedmont Park.
During the first day of the festival, attendees were able to see many of today’s most popular acts perform some of their biggest hits. Actress and singer Coco Jones hit the stage on Saturday, along with artists such as Kodak Black, Bryson Tiller, Tink, Jadakiss, Fabolous, and more. Lil’ Kim also rocked the crowd, delivering songs such as “Crush On You,” “Magic Stick,” and her standout verse on Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s “Get Money.”
Fan-favorite Megan Thee Stallion also performed on day one, giving the fans hits such as “Plan B,” Savage,” and her breakout single “Big Ole Freak.” The evening concluded with a riveting set from the iconic Janet Jackson, who went through a long list of releases over her four decade career, which included “Feedback,” “Rhythm Nation,” and “Control.” During her performance, she brought out J. Cole, who is featured on her 2015 track “No Sleep,” followed by Atlanta native Jermaine Dupri.
On Sunday, DJ Kid Capri energized the early after crowd with rap classics. Singer and songwriter Durrand Bernarr also graced the stage, and spoke to ESSENCE about the energy of this year’s ONE Music Fest. “This is my third time here,” he says. “My first two times, I was doing background vocals with Badu and Teedra Moses.”
“Now, it’s my time to shine,” Bernarr continues. “It’s always good to be able to have your moment. I love singing, period. Whether I’m singing with other voices and blending or having my moment in the spotlight, but I just love performing, period. But, it’s always extra special when it’s you.”
The day also saw a celebration of music’s history, beginning with a powerful performance from El Debarge, and a “Ladies First” set at the Sprite Hip-Hop 50 stage, which featured performances from Yo-yo, Lady of Rage, and Trina. The-Dream and Goodie Mob performed just a little while before the sun went down, setting the tone for the remainder of the festival.
At around 7pm, Tems walked out on the One Music Fest Stage, and performed tracks such as “Higher,” “Replay,” “Found,” and the global hit, “Essence.” Brent Faiyaz also had a set on Sunday, in addition to DJ Drama just a few yards away. During the “DJ Drama and Friends” medley, the Gangsta Grillz creator brought out Waka Flocka Flame, T.I., Young Dro and 2 Chainz.
Closing out the night – and the 2023 ONE Music Fest – was the award-winning Kendrick Lamar. Against a beaming white backdrop, Lamar walked out to Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” which was sampled on last year’s “The Heart Part 5.” During his performance he went through songs such as “DNA” and “Element,” along with “Humble” and “Alright” from his third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly, among his growing list of timeless records.
Outside of the phenomenal performances, one of the best things of ONE Music Fest is it’s promotion of diversity and inclusion. It highlights many of the Southeast’s tastiest food vendors, merchants, artists, small business owners, and more. During the event, there were activations from Red Bull, Pandora, Martell, Mielle, Shein, and several others. Bevel, the company that creates products designed for Black men also had a strong presence on the festival grounds. Its barber shop-inspired activation gave visitors a sense of comfortability, nostalgia, and the opportunity for free haircuts from some of the best in the business.
When asked about what Bevel hopes to achieve with this amazing activation, Girard Hardy, its Brand Marketing Director, tells ESSENCE that “It’s our love letter to Hip Hop. Also, it’s our introduction to a lot of people who maybe don’t know us or didn’t know us as well.” He continues, “But I think we really wanted the audience, the One Music Festival family, to be able to feel who we were as a brand and what’s at our core.”
The 2023 ONE Music was truly one for the books, and with all the amazing guests, food, events and activities, next year definitely has the potential to be bigger and better. So don’t miss out on the festivities in 2024!