Star-studded Essence Festival to hit New Orleans in July

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    (New York, NY) - The 14th annual Essence Music Festival presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate another momentous year in New Orleans this July 4, 5 and 6 with the biggest names in entertainment and the nation's most influential speakers, artists, authors and leaders. The Essence Music Festival is the nation's largest annual gathering of African-American music and culture; featuring an unprecedented three days of cultural celebrations and empowerment seminars and three nights of performances by some of today's greatest African-American artists.

    Performing on the mainstage at the Louisiana Superdome: Kanye West; Mary J. Blige; Chris Brown; Rihanna; Chris Rock; Keyshia Cole; Jill Scott; Maze featuring Frankie Beverly; Morris Day & The Time; LL Cool J; J. Holiday; Musiq; plus, a star-studded celebration of living legend Patti LaBelle featuring original LaBelle members Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx; Angie Stone; Ledisi; Chrisette Michele; Ruby Amanfu; and more!

    It was more than 30 years ago in New Orleans, when Patti Labelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, recorded their famous hit, "Lady Marmalade", produced by legendary musician Allan Touissant. The trio are set to record a new CD this fall and the Essence Music Festival will be their first performance together before they go on tour in September.

    Running concurrently with the mainstage performances in the Superdome's four Superlounges are shows by some of today's rising stars, living legends and New Orleans hometown favorites: Bamboula 2000; Big Sam's Funky Nation and the New Orleans Funk Soul Explosion; Terence Blanchard; Peabo Bryson; Mint Condition; Cupid; Raheem Devaughn; Estelle; Grandmaster Flash; Gil Scott-Heron; Lyfe Jennings; Karina; Kermit Ruffin's Tribute to Louis Armstrong; Ledisi; Irma Thomas and the Professionals; Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra; Chrisette Michelle; Nicholas Payton Quintet; Preservation Hall Jazz Band's Gospel Revival; Purple Disrespect; Rebirth Brass Band; Christian Scott; Solange; Angie Stone and Marva Wright.


    "The Essence Music Festival is truly the ultimate party weekend this Fourth of July; celebrating Black culture with an unparalleled combination of music, arts, and empowerment," says Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications Inc.

    "We have an extraordinary line-up of A-List talent in the Louisiana Superdome and the daytime Essence Empowerment Seminars are covering the issues impacting our community with critical examination, motivation and inspiration." 

    The 2008 Essence Empowerment Seminars will host three full days of free and open-to-the-public socio-political dialogue, spiritual inspiration and motivation led by dynamic speakers at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The Essence Empowerment Seminars will kick off Friday, July 4th, with a celebration of the multi-talented film director, playwright, actor, and New Orleans native, Tyler Perry. This year, ESSENCE has partnered with CNN, the world's leading news source, for a special presentation themed "Reclaiming the Dream", led by CNN correspondents Roland S. Martin and Soledad O'Brien. The Seminars will close out Sunday, July 6th, with an afternoon of praise and worship featuring spiritual leaders Dr. Juanita Bynum, Bishop Paul S. Morton and Co-Pastor Debra Morton, Tye Tribbett, Regina Belle and more!

    In addition to the Essence Empowerment Seminars, the Festival's daytime offerings also include the Essence Marketplace, a showcase of quality fine arts & crafts by African-American vendors from all over the world. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will also feature interactive sponsor presentations, celebrity meet-and-greets, Festival souvenirs and a book fair with author book signings.

    Tickets for the evening concerts are on sale immediately at or (800) 488-5252.  To find performance dates for your favorite artists, hotel accommodations, ticket prices, weekly promotions and volunteer opportunities for the 2008 Essence Music Festival log on to

    Sponsors of the 2008 Essence Music Festival include presenting sponsor, Coca-Cola; major sponsors Chevrolet, CoverGirl Queen Collection, McDonald's, Pantene, U.S. Army, and Wal-Mart; and official sponsors Budweiser, My Black is Beautiful, Southwest Airlines, TBS, TVOne, Vaseline and VH1 Soul.

    The Essence Music Festival started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ESSENCE magazine. Now the Festival has been heralded as one of the country's "Top 10 Leading Brand Events" in 2007 by Advertising Age; highlighted prominently among well-known consumer events such as NASCAR and Spring Break. The Essence Music Festival has featured a host of legendary performers over the years, including Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncè, Chaka Khan, Chris Brown, Destiny's Child, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Kanye West, The Isley Brothers, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, The O'Jays, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams, to name a few.

    The 2008 Essence Music Festival is executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC and produced by Rehage Entertainment. Essence Festivals LLC is a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI).

    About Essence Communications Inc.:

    Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the leading media and communications company dedicated to African-American women.  With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online, the Essence brand is "Where Black Women Come First".  The company's flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit, Window on Our Women (WOW I, II & III) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club,, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD) via Essence Studios. For 38 years, ESSENCE magazine, which has a readership of 8.5 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information relating to every area of African-American women's lives. 

    Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at