Southern Hospitality and the Essence Festival


I AM sure many of you have heard about Southern Hospitality and Essence Festival , but I was blessed to experience it. It was my first visit to the Mississippi and I can tell you, I will be back soon. I met Hilda Bourne, who is a best-selling author from Mississippi at the Lisa Nichols Conference last year and we connected instantly,because I felt she cares for others than herself. She has a very touching life story and I invited her to be one of the speakers at Inspire You, last March.

She invited me to her hometown and I was so happy we have the hospitality to match them. From the time I got there the red carpet was laid out and every day got better. At one time, I told myself this can’t be my first time here because of how comfortable I felt. I will never forget Hilda’s best friend Gwen Burt, who has one of the most beautiful homes I have ever visited.

I did not say house, because not every house is a home. Her joy in that home comes from sharing it with friends and love and the beauty of her heart matches the beauty of her home. She hosted an event at her house in my honour and invited her inner circle of women of like minds and spirit. After my TV interview one morning, I met Dr Anthony from Jackson State University.

At age 20, she was the first black woman on CBS TV in Mississippi. She is a woman of wisdom with an amazing story and expressed interest in collaborating with my foundation. We had a meeting before and we were so energised just discussing the possibilities of the synergies. I will disclose details a little later, but I will give a little hint: it will be something significant for some of the exhibitors of the Women in Business Expo and youths who desire a career in journalism.

I had the desire to attend the Essence Festival for years, but this year it became a reality with the assistance of my new best friend Hilda. I will amplify one Sunday why relationship capital is important to our advancement .When I saw Iyanla Vanzant and Beyonce’s mom on the speakers’ line-up, I immediately decided those are the two women whom I needed to hear speak. Iyanla is an American inspirational speaker, lawyer, New Thought spiritual teacher, author, life coach, and television personality. I got there late and met her son who was leaving the arena and told him I needed to meet his mom.

Her limo was waiting while she was taking pics with fans and she was saying to her assistant that that was her last picture with a young lady. Her son said I need you to take a picture of this lady from Guyana, South America. So I got a chance to chat with her a bit and took a picture. I enjoyed every minute there and what made it even more special, is that every so often, someone stopped to ask about my hair and outfit and only about five persons knew a country called Guyana exists.

The networking was out of this world and I made some great contacts. I even ran into Shaggy, who performed at one of the events. Tamela Mann, Erica Campbell and Kiera Sheard made me feel less guilty of not attending church, because the worship that day centre stage at the festival was worth my reason for attending. Grammy award winner Kelly Pryce, Cece Winans and Chante Moore (whom I had the honour of having lunch with last year) had some magical moments on the main stage. I have some great new ideas for next year’s March event for women, if God’s willing.

If you would like to see Iyanla Vanzant at one of our women’s events, send us a message to and visit our FB Page Beyond the Runway, as we continue this beautiful journey called life Beyond The Runway.