ESSENCE Announces First Time Ever Free Block Party DOUG E. FRESH KICKS OFF THE NIGHTLY CONCERTS WITH THREE DAYS OF FREE MUSIC AND FUN IN NEW ORLEANS JULY 6-8

NEW YORK, May 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ESSENCE will be taking over New Orleans and expanding its reach and programming by adding more free entertainment to the 18th annual ESSENCE Music Festival experience. For the first time ever, ESSENCE will showcase a daily pre-show to the nightly concerts featuring some of music's preeminent artists.  Hip-hop impresario Doug E. Fresh will be kicking off the nightly concerts with the ESSENCE Music Festival Block Party in Champions Square July 6-8 from 3-6pm

In addition to featuring Doug E. Fresh each day, ESSENCE will present dynamic DJs such as MC Lyte and DJ Spinderella who will be spinning the latest jams.  Local acts such as Kourtney Heart, Dee I, and F. Stokes are scheduled to perform. The block party, sponsored by Verizon Wireless, is free and open to the public.

"We've added the ESSENCE Music Festival block party as another exciting vehicle to expand the already extraordinary weekend that we have in store for our attendees," states Michelle Ebanks, President, ESSENCE Communications Inc. "Our audience deserves the best party, the best entertainment and the best speakers for the most inspiring empowerment experience. Innovation and expansion at the festival is critical to serve our audience for an event that they've waited for all year."

Now in its 18th year, the ultimate destination for entertainment and inspiration hosted over 422,000 attendees last year. What began in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ESSENCE magazine has now grown into one of the country's "Top 10 Leading Brand Events" by Advertising Age.  The ESSENCE Music Festival is the nation's largest annual gathering of African-American music and culture.  Throughout its history, the Festival has featured an array of performers including Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Al Green, Beyonce, Chaka Khan, Destiny's Child, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, The Isley Brothers, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Maxwell, The O'Jays, Prince, Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams, among others.

For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL, 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 the Official website, www.EssenceVIPEvents.com.

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, TV-One and Visa Pre-Paid. Superlounge sponsors are Coca-Cola, Ford, McDonald's and Verizon Wireless.

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 magazine



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