2012 ESSENCE Music Festival Presents The Official Free ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Day-By-Day Line-Up WORLD'S ONLY MUSIC AND CULTURAL FESTIVAL THAT OFFERS "WEEKEND OF POWER" ACTIVITIES

THE EMPOWERMENT EXPERIENCE WELCOMES BACK STEVE HARVEY'S FAMILY FEUD AS WELL AS CNN'S SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, DR. STEVE PERRY, REVEREND AL SHARPTON AND MELISSA HARRIS PERRY OF MSNBC

SPECIAL APPEARANCES BY VANESSA L. WILLIAMS, REP. MAXINE WATERS, TERRENCE J., LISARAYE MCCOY, TAMAR BRAXTON, TRINA BRAXTON, KOBIE BROWN, DEVIN THOMAS, CYNTHIA BAILEY AND MORE

NEW YORK, May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ESSENCE is proud to announce the official line up of the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience at the ESSENCE Music Festival in New Orleans this July 5th-8th. As the nation's definitive African-American live cultural experience, the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience will bring together the leaders, innovators, activists, experts, artists, performers and thinkers who are defining the social and political discussions that matter most to attendees all under one roof at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The "Power of Our Voice" is the theme of this year's 18th annual ESSENCE Music Festival and through this forum ESSENCE will celebrate the power of Family, Community and Spirit within a unique gathering that is free and open to the public.

FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2012: THE POWER OF FAMILY

On Friday (July 6), the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience will bring on the fun in a "Power of Family" themed day that starts off with families playing the "Family Feud."  Then, attendees will get to hear first hand from some of the most popular siblings on television at the "Families in the Name of Love: The Truth Behind Reality TV" seminar featuring Tamar and Trina Braxton, Mary Mary, Cynthia Bailey and Malorie Bailey-Massie. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC will open the day's conversation with a message on Sisterhood. We will also explore the power of love with our relationship panels. The day will be hosted by "Steve Harvey Morning Show" personality and author Shirley Strawberry.

SATURDAY, JULY 7, 2012: THE POWER OF COMMUNITY

In this critical election year, ESSENCE will empower people to get the vote out on Saturday (July 7th) and harness the "Power of Community" in conversations about education, the church and voting within the African American community by key speakers Dr. Steve Perry, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Floyd Flake and Maxine Waters. The day will be hosted by noted journalist Lola Ogunnaike.

SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2012: THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT

Sunday (July 3rd) will be a great day in New Orleans and a rousing finale to the weekend with award winning journalist, author and "NY1 News" anchor Cheryl Wills hosting the festivities as ESSENCE presents a day of praise and worship during an "All-Star Gospel Salute to Mary Mary and Fred Hammond" with Yolanda Adams, Kim Burrell, Tramaine Hawkins, Pastor Marvin Winans, Byron Cage, Israel Houghton and more.

The day-by-day schedule of the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience is as follows:

Friday, July 6: "Power of Family"
Keynote Address by Alice Randall
"Family Feud," hosted by Steve Harvey
"A Candid Conversation on Mother Daughter Love, Laughter and Surviving Drama," moderated by Fredricka Whitfield with Vanessa L. Williams and Helen Williams
"The Power of Our Sisters," with Melissa Harris-Perry
"Families In the Name of Love," featuring Tamar Braxton and Trina Braxton, Mary Mary, Cynthia Bailey and Malorie Bailey-Massie
"Finding Love at Any Age: Black Relationships Redefined," featuring Tracy McMillan, Shirley Strawberry, LisaRaye McCoy and Denise Vasi
"Rooted in the Love of Fatherhood," moderated by Soledad O'Brien and featuring director Kobie Brown and Dr. Ronald Mason
"What Men Want," featuring Terrence J, Devin Thomas, DB Woodside, and Terrell Tilford  

Saturday, July 7: "Power of Your Community"– Sponsored by U.S. Army
Keynote Message on Election 2012: Congresswoman Maxine Waters
"The 2012 Election: What's At Stake For You?" moderated by Soledad O'Brien featuring Marc H. Morial, Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson, Michael Baisden and Dr. Julianne Malveaux
"State of the Vote: Why Your Vote Counts," featuring Reverend Al Sharpton
"Taking Back Our Schools," featuring Dr. Steve Perry
"2012 Election: Does the Black Church Still Matter?" featuring Reverend Floyd Flake, Pastor Debra Morton, Reverend Jacqueline J. Lewis and Reverend Dr. DeForest Soaries, Jr.
"The 2012 Black Women's Agenda: The High Cost of Living in America," moderated by Fredricka Whitfield and featuring ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Constance C.R. White, Dr. C. Nicole Mason, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Monique Greenwood, Issa Rae (Creator of Awkward Black Girl) and Judy Magnus Jackson.

Sunday, July 8: "Power of Your Spirit," An All Star Gospel Salute to Mary Mary and Fred Hammond– Sponsored by Simply
"All-Star Gospel Salute" to Mary Mary and Fred Hammond
A full-day of praise, songs and worship, with Bishop Lester Love, Pastor Marvin Winans, Yolanda Adams, Kim Burrell, Tramaine Hawkins, Israel Houghton, Maurette Brown Clark, Pastor Charles Jenkins, Byron Cage, Tyronne Foster and the Arc Singers with remarks by "NY 1 News" anchor Cheryl Wills.

In addition to the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, the Festival's daytime offerings include the ESSENCE MARKETPLACE, a showcase of quality fine arts & crafts by African-American vendors from all over the world as well as many New Orleans vendors. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will also feature interactive sponsor presentations, celebrity meet-and-greets, festival merchandise and a book fair with author book signings.

For the latest news about the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL, accommodations and concert tickets visit ESSENCE Music Festival www.essencemusicfestival.com Join the Festival community: follow us on Twitter @essencemusic #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival on Facebook.

The 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival, in partnership with QuintEvents, has created "ESSENCE VIP Events" to offer fans the ultimate in "insider access", with exclusive VIP ticket, travel and hospitality party venue packages. The Official packages are available now at www.QuintEvents.com and will be featured on the Official website, www.ESSENCEVIPEVENTS.com in early 2012.

The presenting sponsor for the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival is Coca-Cola.  Major sponsors include Coors Light, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Ford, My Black is Beautiful, U.S. Army and Verizon. Official Sponsors are CNN, State Farm, TBS, TV-One and Visa Pre-Paid.

The 2012 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL is executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC, a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI).  GeChar is the executive producer of the 2012 ESSENCE Empowerment Experience.

ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC.:
Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online.  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, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 42 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of over 8 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women's lives.  Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at www.essence.com.

SOURCE Essence Communications Inc.



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