Essence Music Festival Opens to Teen Squeals

Young acts, such as Diggy Simmons and the OMG Girlz, shine, while Bell Biv Devoe reminisces.

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Diggy Simmons and the OMG Girlz at the 2012 BET Awards (Getty Images)

(The Root) -- Diggy Simmons, Disney star Coco Jones and the OMG Girlz headlined the Essence Music Festival's evening for families, entitled "New & Next," on Thursday.

The OMG Girlz, a pint-sized trio counting the daughter of  T.I. and wife Tameka "Tiny" Harris as a member, made the young crowd scream with their pop hit "Gucci This." Coco Jones, the star of the Disney Channel's latest movie, Let it Shine, wowed the crowd with her voice, singing cuts from her forthcoming debut album like "Fresher Than a Peppermint." Diggy Simmons, the son of Run-DMC's Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons, solidified his star power by running through hits, including "Four Letter Word" and "Great Expectations," as the teen girls in the audience screamed at the top of their lungs.

Elsewhere, Bell Biv Devoe, Tamia and Kenny Lattimore took over the New Orleans House of Blues with energetic performances. In BBD's case, the veteran group included a dance-off between crowd members to determine who could replicate the choreography from their 1990s "Poison" video best.

At the kickoff morning press conference, Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks spoke a few words about the weekend's audience and referred to first lady Michelle Obama. "[Mrs. Obama said that] she spent time surrounding herself with the things that bring her joy and strength," said Ebanks. "Our first lady said that other women in similar circumstances, balancing career and family, slip down on their own priority list. And there's no group of women more profoundly impacted by this balance than our festivalgoers ... We asked African-American women how they saw themselves. My favorite quote: 'Black women don't keep it from raining, but they hold up the sky.' "

If you can't make it to EMF, be sure to check out The Root for updates and artist interviews! 

Hillary Crosley is The Root's New York bureau chief.

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