The Braxton girls love New Orleans. In this season’s Braxton Family Values premiere, Traci and Trina make an appearance at Essence Music Festival in this great city and party their heels off on the famous Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. If you decide to take a trip, here’s the Braxton Guide To New Orleans!

Mercedes-Benz Superdome: This is where amazing diva stars like Beyonce and WE tv’s very own Mary Mary performed during the Essence music festival. Make sure to catch a great concert here , you’ll be blown away.

The French Quarter: This is New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood and home of Bourbon street, the heart of New Orleans. This district is beyond beautiful with cute little terraces and hanging plants. It could be straight out of a painting.

Bourbon Street: This is where the magic happens. The parties, the music in the streets, the costumes, the street vendors,etc. This is one of the most famous streets in the entire country. Traci and Trina get the full Bourbon Street experience when they throw Mardi Gras beads at topless girls below.

Johnny’s Po-Boys: One of many famous places to get a traditional New Orleans Po-Boy sandwich. So dig in and enjoy a delicious, lip smacking fried seafood or roast beef sub.

Beignets: If you are in New Orleans, make sure to stop on the street and try this famous fried dough. You will be licking that yummy powdered sugary goodness off your fingers and smiling all the way down Bourbon street.

Mississippi River: Take a nice walk by the river with your man, your sister or your best friend and don’t forget to indulge yourself in some delicious cajun seafood caught right from those waters.

 

 

The sisters fight traffic with a police escort to get back to the convention center for the sisterhood panel at Essence.  MMQuote: “So we’ve been on this roller coaster ride, I get them on stage, and now we can breathe.”  The panel is hosted by the fabulous Michelle Williams (who is also our favorite hairstylist, Kim Kimble’s client), and the sisters jump right in by sharing their sister beef!  MMQuote: “We go hard, but we apologize big.”  The sisters have a great time on the panel, but compared to the crowd of 90,000 they will be performing for on Sunday this ain’t no thing!  MMQuote: “Ain’t that alright?”

MMQuote: “You never pull an artist from a performance while they’re in the building.”  Warryn feels like he needs to have a serious discussion with Mitchell about him pulling the girls from their charity performance.  Is it just us, or is Warryn more visibly involved this season?  WE can’t get used to it!

Tina and Erica head to rehearsal to get everything right for their huge Essence performance.  MMQuote: “Performing on the main stage after trying to get here for so many years, we gotta be good.  Better than good.  We gotta be leaving our souls on the stage.”  But, when Tina starts to sit down in rehearsal everyone starts to get a little concerned.  Then Micromanager Tina comes out, and starts drilling the background singers hard.  MMQuote: “Me? I want to focus on me because even if they mess up, I want to make sure that I don’t.”  Erica looks like she is about to lose her patience, and she can’t help but explain that frustration to Tina.  MMQuote: “The last thing we need right now is an argument.”  The sisters take the conversation to a private place so they can talk about it further, but neither sister understands each other’s point.  MMQuote: “We have wasted enough time.”

After that exhausting rehearsal, the Marys are glammed up and ready to receive their Lifetime Achievement Award from Essence.  MMQuote: “I am too excited!”  Many well known gospel stars have come together to honor Mary Mary, and it is truly an amazing event.  However, Tina gets off stage to deal with an inconsolable son back home in L.A..  MMQuote: “I know Tina is a mom first, but to leave during a tribute to take a phone call that was about death or someone falling in the pool?  Who does that?  Who does that?  Tina does that, obviously.”  The sisters are speechless and so grateful for this honor, and having such well respected members of the gospel music community honor them is far beyond anything they could have imagined.  MMQuote: “You took everything I was and made me what I am.”  It is truly a humbling experience for Tina and Erica, and they do not forget to thank those who have gotten them to this point.

The day of the biggest performance of Mary Mary’s career is finally here!  MMQuote: “God, this is a huge facility.”  The sisters only have 30 minutes for their sound check, but the sisters are faced with some issues as soon as they start practicing their opening.  With the time it is taking the sisters to work out their entrance, they are left with little time to have a proper sound check.  MMQuote: “I’m pregnant, I’m hormonal, I’m not 100% myself, and I’m not getting over the fact that this is not going the way I would like to as quick as Erica is so she’s frustrated.”  The sisters are kicked off after 45 minutes, and unfortunately did not have enough time to practice each one of the songs being performed.  MMQuote: “If we’re not incredible on this stage tonight, they won’t invite another gospel music act back.”  To make matters worse, Warryn is looking for “clarity” on yesterday’s charity performance mishap now. Warryn, could you have waited until you got back to the hotel or at least until you were in the car service back to the hotel?  At this point, WE can’t tell who is overstepping the line and who has a right to call what shots.  WE are confused!  MMQuote: “Keep writing hits and I’ll show you the money.”

Backstage at the Super Dome, the sisters are trying to get ready and work through their nerves.  Of course Tina’s nerves are causing her to nitpick at the smallest details, like the way GooGoo sewed the zippers on to Tina’s leggings.  The sisters are also taking this time to watch their rehearsal videos and run through their choreographed steps.  WE’re worried!  MMQuote: “This is Essence.  This is the Super Dome.  It’s gotta be bigger than life.”  Erica and Mitchell are trying to keep Tina on schedule, but first Tina must fit in a prayer.  However, Tina still needs to put on her shoes and provide a sound bite for a TV ONE interview.  It is time to hustle!  MMQuote: “We have to deliver.”

Mary Mary takes the stage to 90,000 urban music loving fans ready to get up out of their seats and dance to some of Mary Mary’s best known songs.  The crowd is on their feet loving themselves some Mary Mary!  MMQuote: “These fans came ready.  It’s like this is what they’ve been waiting for the entire year.”  However, a pair of slippery pants seems to be ruining Tina’s performance and flow.  MMQuote: “The great thing about Tina is she has the ability to turn a moment like that into comedy because she is very funny.”  And with that, Mary Mary continues to give a performance of a lifetime.  Once they get off stage, the sisters are ecstatic, exhausted and overcome with emotion.  MMQuote: “I was so proud of them.  They looked like this is what we do, we belong here.  You gave us 30 minutes, we deserve an hour and this performance is going to show you that.”  Mary Mary truly has the love and support from the Essence crowd and especially from their family.

Is this the end for Mary Mary?  Will Erica record her own solo album?  Where do the sisters go from here?  WE want to hear from you!

Needless to say, if ‘The Voice’ and ‘The Derby’ hadn’t fallen on vacation time, and clear of our son Declyn’s sports conflicts, we would not have been going. (It’s like that old Marilyn Monroe quote, “Fame, I know it well, but that’s not where I live.”)  After 20 years of marriage, and my own career, I’ve learned what glamorous ideas we have about ‘this lifestyle’ don’t always match up with the reality of the life itself. For example, flying off to be with Cyn when she is working can be an endless waiting game for phoners with journalists to get wrapped up, stylist meetings to get wrapped up, hair, make-up, photo shoots to get wrapped up, meetings, sound checks to get wrapped up and…you get the picture. So one has to weigh very carefully the pros and cons of such journeys, because traveling out to see Mom doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to really see her. After all, we’re not fans, we’re family.

But then this is what we do, and there-in lies the rub of what we have to balance. Sometimes the means don’t justify the ends, and sometimes they do. My own sense of kids is that they don’t want to see their parents naked, and they don’t want to see them at work. They just want them to go to work and come home, like ghosts ships laden down with ‘the bacon.’ That being said, ‘The Voice’ was like a blur. We were in L.A. for two days, a blink, and then we were gone. It was almost like we dreamt it, just too short. But the Derby was another story. Putting aside the nightmarish fiasco of getting there (fourteen hours, after Delta canceled, and canceled, and canceled. We finally ended up flying out of Atlanta on a private jet which was very cool, but not so cool when you arrive at three in the morning, and have to perform the same day.) Getting past that though, the Derby lived up to its billing and fame. It was an incredible party. We had a workable chunk of time too, to get out and see things (like the Mohammed Ali museum) and experience local culinary delights (fried green tomatoes), and plenty of good humor from the folks in Louisville (can’t print here, but damn funny). It’s as great a time as Mardis Gras in New Orleans, or festival in Rio, and completely one-of-a-kind.

I loved it all. From watching Dec feed peppermints to the most beautiful and perfectly groomed animals in the world (if only my kid’s room could be half as clean as those stables!), to being awed by their physical power and athleticism come race time, to the colors and fashions, and hats of the Derby event itself, to my novice testings of the myriad bourbons engulfing me…it was a bucket list memory for sure. It was also satisfying, being a parent voyeur, watching Dec and Cyn do the red carpet together. Declyn was very protective of his mom, respectful and at once able to be himself. I would have been terrified at that age, but he is very much at ease in the limelight. And they really did have time to share between the cracks of the harried get-up-and-go schedules.

Would do it again in a heartbeat, even with all the traffic and Cyn’s ‘vocal malfunction’ which is now You Tube lore. Many thanks Kentucky, for your warmest hospitality!

In the end, we realize how lucky we are as a family to see some very amazing things up close, and in a very personal kind of way. To that end, we are aware of our good fortune, and also of my need to now go lose five pounds.

First off, can we have Donatello appear in our kitchen everyone morning to cook us breakfast?  And he also plays with your pets?  Where can we sign up?  T&VQuote: “Miracle… can you please stop sweating him?”  But we don’t know what to “aww” at more… Miracle playing with Tamar or poor Donatello when he realized Vince can’t have turkey.  Thankfully, Tamar and Vince realize there is a learning curve and they are soon on to arguing about how many slices of tomatoes Vince can have.  T&VQuote: “I’m just trying to keep my husband from winding up in the hospital again or worse.  Is that so bad?”  Tomatoes soon lead to booze, which is apparently something Tamar has been thoroughly enjoying lately.  This couple can’t even get through breakfast without an argument, so how are they going to give relationship advice at Essence?  However, Tamar feels like her superfans will most likely just blame it all on Vince.  T&VQuote: “I have Tamartians, Vince.”  T&VQuote: “I don’t know the Tamartians.  I just know The Tamar, she, me, her… I don’t know who she is.  I don’t know who the martians are.  Hope they never come to my door cuz I’ll be scared and nervous and confused.”

Tamar and Vince head over to the studio to meet up with Harvey and get a taste of the single, “Get Your Life”.  T&VQuote: “You know, I can’t even think of a word to describe how HOT my music is.  I’m gonna have to make up a whole new language to describe it.”  Tamar is “straight snappin’” and everyone in the studio is definitely a huge fan of the song.  Tamar wants this single to debut ASAP, but Vince wants to make sure the timing is right.  T&VQuote: “It’s very typical for artists to want to get their work out as fast as possible, but I want to take my time and make sure we do the right thing.”  Tamar wants a younger person’s opinion, so Damon goes to get his 14 year old daughter, Shawnna.  T&VQuote: “If she doesn’t like it, then it’s not hot.”  Shawnna looks like she loves the song and wants to drop it like it’s hot along with Tamar.  T&VQuote: “It’s something I can dance to.”  Apparently, Tamar feels the same way because she says she almost knocked her hair piece off while getting down.  T&VQuote: “Pump your brakes.  We got you… dot com.”

Before leaving for Essence, Tamar and Vince stop off to get a status on her “Get Your Life” and “.com” shirts she will be selling in New Orleans.  T&VQuote: “That’s what my Tamartian friends say the most.  I mean every day, somebody needs to get their life!”  Tamar and Vince carefully select placement of the graphics on the tshirt guru’s chest with a 12 inch ruler, discuss ink colors, and to bling or not to bling.  T&VQuotes: “My shirts are gonna be the shit.”

Hellooooo Nawlins and the Essence Music Festival!  T&VQuote: “For real, I’m excited to see my Tamartian friends.”  Essence is PACKED with Tamar and Vince Fans, and the WE tv booth is insane.  You even see our giveaway winners planking with the couple.  WE can tell you firsthand how crazy it was since we were down in New Orleans with the rest of the WE tv family during the event.  And we were there when Tamar got a few tummy rumbles and needed to run to the bathroom.  It was MAYHEMT&VQuote: “What if I shart on stage!?  She pooped herself.org!”  With the agonizing moans coming from the green room, WE knew Tamar needed to take care of business.  T&VQuote: “#1 I have to pee like Seabiscuit.  #2 I feel like I have the Hershey squirts.”  But Tamar ran to the bathroom in those six inch Giuseppes like a pro!  WE would have fallen flat on our faces.  T&VQuote: “Sometimes you gotta hold your little poop.”  Luckily, Tamar makes it back in time to discuss relationships and marriage.  Tamar and Vince truly love each other, and can share the importance of being friends, as well as husband and wife.  And trust, Tamar does not let Vince forget for one second that he had a girlfriend when she was feeling him… and that he was in the “process” of breaking up with her.  T&VQuote: “I broke up with the young lady, fell in love with Tamar, and here’s Miracle.”

The line was INSANE at Garb Boutique on Magazine Street, but would you expect anything different from Tamar’s loyal Tamartians?  But what was truly a site was LaShawn selling Tamar’s tshirt like it was his job.  T&VQuote: “You would never think he sold 200 million albums, and got two Grammys, and is one of the biggest and hottest song writers in the world.”  LaShawn and Vince are from New Jersey, which according to LaShawn is the home of the hustler… so that explains it!  T&VQuote: “Was I sweating?  YES!  Were my Louis Vuitton sneakers finished? YES!”

It’s now Day 2 at EMF, and Tamar and Vince are fresh off another fight.  T&VQuote: “So today, she is just going to sit, and be pretty, and gorgeous, and smile.”  But, it’s only a matter of time until the conversation turns from fried chicken to Vince’s whereabouts the night before.  T&VQuote: “I was there watching TV, and Tamar was snoring.”  After Vince walks away from the conversation, he gets on stage at the WE tv Q&A solo leaving Tamar alone in the green room.  T&VQuote: “I’m gonna have this Q&A, but when we get home I’m gonna check that ass, boo.”

Vince and Tamar go out to dinner with April and LaShawn post EMF and post argument.  As the couples rehash the occurrences of the trip, Tamar’s memory seems a bit fuzzy.  She can’t remember April stepping in mud, April complaining about stepping in mud, or getting a late night snack.  But WE must side with Tamar… after a few Voodoos and Hurricanes, you will spend your night pleasantly blacked out!

Tamar and Vince arrive back in L.A., and are quick to hit up the studio with Damon again to rework a verse in Tamar’s single, “Get Your Life”.  T&VQuote: “I haven’t listened to it in a few days, and I’m not feeling it at all!”  Tamar reworks a verse and changes the tempo, but that is still not cutting it.  SHE is not happy.  Tamar feels like it all seems a bit forced, but she is willing to step back for a bit, let Damon work his magic, and listen to it later on.

Back at Casa Herbert, Miracle is in hot water when Tamar notices all the little treats he has been leaving all over the carpet.  T&VQuote: “I know who the real poop culprit is.”  Vince tries his best to convince Tamar this is an isolated incident, and that Toni’s dog, Bentley has been the culprit in instances past.  She’s not buying it.  As the two sit down to eat, Tamar notices Vince is in visible pain.  Vince woke up with a pain in his back, and Tamar thinks it is best to go to the hospital and get him checked out.  T&VQuote: “It is not on my schedule to lose my man today.”

 

Was that bayou woman for real?! I love her! She’s as country funky as it comes! Offering to help city mouse Mia out though… total mistake. I agreed to help Mia do the couple’s “save the date” photos, because she was SCARED of visiting the swamp. Lo and behold, she was right to be frightened! Some giant bayou bald Santa clause wouldn’t quit trying to get me to “sit on his lap.” So I just tried to be polite and get away ASAP but I can STILL feel his eyes staring me down! ugh.

At the reception, I was nervous as hell since I’ve never played Cajun or zydeco before, but I have to say HOW FUN WAS THAT! I barely even noticed a fight that happened. I’ve seen so many fights on the dance floor and I just wasn’t feeling it that day. I wanted to keep my high from a good performance so I turned my attention to a shot of whiskey instead. It was much more fulfilling than yet another jealous fight!

At the chapel, we had some street performers come in and honestly, they had such a quirky routine going on I was happy to take back seat. Their best man was killer though! I just wanted to have a cup of coffee with him and hear that little nerdy voice come out of that 9 foot monster all day long. Tell me a story mister! The wedding at my favorite bar… well … lets just say shots of Grand Marnier, miniscule will power and a hyenas decorum leads to bras on the ceiling, bitches being beat up behind the video poker machines and Mia, Maria and I drinking at the bar. I love my job!

After shifting my career from the cut-throat “World of Fashion” to the French Quarter Wedding Chapel, I wasn’t expecting people to go for my jugular anymore… but then Queen M of the vampires and Sheriff Steve showed up ready to tie the knot, and this time the threat felt LITERAL. Of course, using the term “people” would be stretching it a bit with this couple, as far as I’m concerned.

The Voodoo ceremony preceding their vows was amazing. I was even happy to have Maria there; she may be cold-blooded but for alternative bait she works just fine. In the end I got some beautiful pictures while covering up my neck just in case anybody got any ideas. After surviving this I’m thinking that things might not be so bad, but of course all hell breaks loose on the actual wedding day (or night, as it were in this case).

Maria was nowhere to be found, so I had to help Queen M get ready. This put me right within fangs reach of her, not to mention the scariest and weirdest bridal party I’ve ever seen. The maid of honor, Sue, is a vampire, and got hissy when Queen M started talking about giving the honors to witch-slave (WTH?!?!) Camille. There was also a girl who they called “Companion” and I have no clue what her role was apart from being quiet and cowering. I was happy to escape the room and leave them to their prep and drama.
Then things went from bad to worse: it seemed like EVERYBODY in the damned wedding had fangs. I felt like my translucent skin was a throbbing road map to the buffet for these bloodsuckers. I had worn my cross as protection but Queen M snidely remarked it as being “a cute touch”, and it became clear that my knowledge of vampire deterring needed some updating.

In the end I found out that the term “Companion” refers pretty much to the vampire equivalent of a lunch-box, and I couldn’t get out of the mansion soon enough. I wish Queen M and Sheriff Steve the eternal happiness they deserve, but hope I never have to cross paths with them again.