Janet Jackson Brought Legendary Sparkle & Shine To The 2022 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture With An Iconic Performance

Photo Credit: Janet Jackson/Instagram

The ESSENCE Festival Of Culture finally made its glorious return to New Orleans this past Fourth Of July weekend and a time was had. The weekend featured a film festival, beauty and hair expo, lively panels, Black-owned business marketplace and many opportunities to have fun in the Louisiana sun. But the biggest draw, of course, was the star-studded concerts. While legends, newcomers and established acts abounded, the peak of the weekend once again turned out to be the one and only Janet Jackson, who shut everything down with an electrifying set as the headliner of the festival’s second night.

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Miss Jackson showed up and showed out from the set’s very beginning as she stomped onto the stage in a custom black catsuit from luxury label The Blonds encrusted with crystals and matching black Louboutin boots that made her sparkle from head to toe. She kicked off things with “Feedback” as she readied the audience for what was to come. Once they got the point, she kept the jams coming with Discipline cut “So Much Betta” before segueing into fan-favorite cut “If” — making sure to sprinkle in a bit of Kaytranada‘s flip to add some new bounce to things.

That was just the beginning, though, as Janet was bringing chart-topping hits and unexpected album tracks throughout the entirety of the hour and fifteen minutes she held the audience in awe. With just four dancers in tow, including her go-to guy Denzel Chisolm, she went through her catalog of jams like “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “R&B Junkie,” “Let’s Wait Awhile” (in which she also incorporated a slice of Rhythm Nation 1814‘s “Lonely” as a treat for deep cut fans), “Got ‘Til It’s Gone,” “Made For Now” and “Together Again.” And that’s not even including the Rhythm Nation-focused closing act, which featured almost all of that album’s chart-topping singles.

What was most amazing about her performance, though, was not just her giving us all this iconic energy and putting on a performance master class. Throughout her time on stage, she showed off her musical ear as well, weaving her many hits together seamlessly while also incorporating touches of others into the mix. A little Big Freedia was thrown into the “Nasty” breakdown, while Cheryl Lynn‘s “To Be Real” and Evelyn “Champagne” King‘s “I’m In Love” added some flavor between “When I Think Of You” and “R&B Junkie.” She also lovingly added touches of her equally legendary brothers The Jackson 5‘s “Never Can Say Goodbye” and Luther Vandross‘ jam “Never Too Much” into “Together Again.”

In a weekend that celebrated all aspects of Black culture and Black music, the esteemed performer made sure to pay tribute to those who came before, those who have passed on and those who are currently moving the culture. Perhaps that’s why, at a festival that trotted out musical royalty, her performance was the crown jewel.

If you happened to miss this year’s ESSENCE Fest or its livestream on Hulu, we highly suggest you track down the full performance on YouTube before it gets pulled down to see why Janet Jackson is still that girl. You can see her show’s full setlist below.

Janet Jackson 2022 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture Setlist:

So Much Betta
What Have You Done For Me Lately
The Pleasure Principle
When I Think Of You
R&B Junkie
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Got ‘Til It’s Gone
That’s The Way Love Goes
Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)
Let’s Wait Awhile
I Get Lonely
Any Time, Any Place
Made For Now
All For You
Come On Get Up
Together Again
State Of The World
The Knowledge
Miss You Much
Love Will Never Do (Without You)
Black Cat
Rhythm Nation

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