Music

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For consumers, "free" is rarely ever free — especially when it comes to social media and other online platforms. In exchange for utilizing services like Facebook, for example, users allow information about themselves — everything from their ages and zip codes to the particular products, services and companies they like — to be collected, sliced, diced, and sometimes given to other advertisers, who pay for access to that information.

"...the Spirituals, in a limited degree, are still in the making."
-James Weldon Johnson

Headliners at the Essence Festival, which marked its 22nd Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans earlier this month, play in the middle of the Superdome, a cavernous arena that, as configured for the fest, seats about 50,000. Up on the stadium's plaza level, a cozier, less formal kind of show takes place. Four multipurpose party rooms deemed Superlounges, which each fit about 1,200 fans, serve as secondary stages.

When musicians Nick Walusko and Darian Sahanaja first met in Los Angeles back in 1983, they immediately bonded over their shared passions: movies, sci-fi and the mysteries of 1960s pop. The two spent countless hours poring over records by bands like Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas & the Papas and The Beach Boys, "just taking apart music and figuring out how all the parts work together," Walusko recalls.

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