Matthew Knowles Attempts To Keep Essence Festival Alive

Following the widely reported snafus that occurred during last month?s Essence Music Festival in Houston, city officials are hoping to use the clout of music executive Mathew Knowles, father of Beyonce, in pushing for the event?s return to the city next year. Doug Horn, chairman of the greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, tells the Houston Chronicle that Knowles has already advised bureau officials on possible talent for the festival should it return to Houston, which hosted the event after its regular New Orleans venue was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. “He certainly lends a major influence,” Horn told the newspaper of Knowles, who has met with the mayor?s deputy chief of staff, Terence Fontaine, and some other city officials to discuss how the city can attract other music events. ?He’s a force in the music industry. He just wants an opportunity to help,” Fontaine said of Knowles. During its three-day run on July Fourth weekend, Horn said the Essence Music Festival generated an estimated $88 million to $90 million in revenue for the local economy. But gripes and complaints followed Houston?s first experience with the event, as some out-of-state guests voiced frustration at the long distances between festival attractions. Participants were annoyed that they couldn?t walk or take a quick cab ride between venues. On July 30, Bureau officials in Houston submitted a bid to host the festival again next year, this time offering shuttle transportation that would ferry festival goers between hotels and venues, Horn said. Under one proposal, officials offered using the George R. Brown Convention Center as an alternative location for the daytime seminars while Reliant Stadium would be used for the night concerts. Another proposal calls for Reliant Park to be the only site. Meanwhile, officials in New Orleans haven?t given up on bringing the festival back to the Bayou, where it had been held with great popularity for the past decade. A rep for Essence would only tell the Chronicle that the group was negotiating with Houston and New Orleans. Spokeswoman Dana Baxter said Essence officials expected to make a decision within the next few weeks. Matthew Knowles responded to the Chronicle’s request for an interview by an e-mail sent through a publicist. “All throughout the career of Destiny’s Child and Kelly, Beyoncé and Michelle’s career, they’ve been major Ambassadors of Houston throughout the world,” he wrote. “We are in discussion with Essence for Beyoncé on the 2007 tour. We also are in the process of routing Beyoncé’s world tour for 2007. It would be great if she could do both in her hometown of Houston. Where the Essence festival lands next year is a discussion for Essence and Houston’s City Government.”


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