Taking a few moments behind the scenes during the concluding empowerment seminar of the 2006 Essence Music Festival, Editorial Director for Essence magazine Susan Taylor sat down with Final Call Managing Editor Dora Muhammad to share her thoughts on the weekend’s events.

Final Call (FC): Please share with me what you think about the success of the Essence 2006 Music Festival so far.

Susan Taylor (ST): You know, it’s been phenomenal. Of course, the great, great end to it is that Minister Farrakhan is here. I have wanted him to speak here. Jill Scott you hear in the background is one who the Minister adores. When she came in it was just so wonderful to see them greet each other. The Festival has been a gathering of beautiful minds and hearts and phenomenal music and we’re so happy that Min. Farrakhan could be with us here today.


FC: The Youth Initiative is Essence Cares. What was the inspiration for that and how did that actually come about?

ST: Usually what I do is produce seminars that run everyday as they are right now, and we bring the most phenomenal speakers and ministers and everybody has a good time. We praise God and we throw our hands up in the air, but the condition of our people continues to worsen. So I said, what we are going to do is use our might, and the fact that we bring together about 250,000 people over these three days to create a change, a needed change in our communities.

And basically we’re saying enough research; enough of the negative statistics. Let us take charge and link arms and names and secure our young people. Let’s do something. It’s a work day. So that was really the initiation of it.  Katrina washed the scales from our eyes and now we can see. Many of us knew; some people didn’t. The wealthiest country in the world, it’s not acceptable that we should have so many poor people.

FC: Regarding Hurricane Katrina, this is the first time the Essence Festival has been displaced, along with the residents of New Orleans. How did that affect the spiritual make up and composition of this particular year?

ST: You know something, I do believe in divine order. If it were not for the displacement; if not for the tragedy of Katrina, we wouldn’t be launching Essence Cares. We would be going down the same road, phenomenal road, but doing what we’ve been doing the very same way.

FC: Please talk about the women of Essence.

ST: What we do is we stand strongly for women, for the empowerment of women because when you empower women, you empower children; you empower men, you empower the elders, you empower the community.

FC: Thank you.