White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett Will Join the All New ESSENCE Empowerment Experience at the 2011 ESSENCE Music Festival The All New ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Offers Discussions From Leading News Makers and Journalists Including Steve Harvey, Soledad O'Brien, Tavis Smiley, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Cornel West

The Iconic Festival Presented By Coca Cola Honors the Roots of R&B With A First Rate Line-Up of More Than 40 Acts Including Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Jill Scott, Chaka Khan and Trey Songz this July 1, 2 and 3 in Picturesque New Orleans

NEW YORK, June 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearing two decades of excellence, the 2011 ESSENCE Musical Festival will celebrate its 17th anniversary this July 1, 2 and 3 in New Orleans, LA with the biggest names in entertainment and the nation's most influential speakers, artists, authors and leaders.  The annual weekend of entertainment and empowerment will once again dazzle and uplift with an unprecedented three days of cultural celebrations over the festive Fourth of July holiday weekend in one of America's most beloved cities. With a combination of unforgettable musical performances and engaging discussions that offer a "Weekend of Transformation," the 2011 ESSENCE Music Festival will be a celebration that people talk about for years to come.  

"We are looking forward to celebrating The Roots of R&B this Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans," said Michelle Ebanks, president, Essence Communications Inc.  "Every year we look to share a one-of-a-kind celebration that entertains, inspires and empowers mind, body and soul. Between our incredible music line up, the fun and informative offerings of the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience and the many interactive on-site sponsor activities, the 2011 ESSENCE Music Festival is sure to be an unforgettable experience."

Routinely drawing upwards of 400,000 participants, this year's list of performers reads like a Who's Who of music. Award-winning and multi-platinum superstars Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, New Edition, Kanye West, Jill Scott, Chaka Khan and Trey Songz lead the initial all-star roster of many returning favorites for the eagerly anticipated concerts held each night in the Superdome. These top notch artists are a part of a stellar group of established and emerging artists who continue to honor "The Roots of R&B" including Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Boyz II Men, Stephanie Mills, El Debarge, Kem, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Macy Gray, Dwele, Alexander O'Neal & Cherrelle, Mint Condition, Kelly Price, M.C. Lyte and New Orleans talent including Irma Thomas, Kourtney Heart, Rebirth Brass Band, Charmaine Neville Band,

and TBC Brass Band.

In addition to the stellar music line up, The ESSENCE Music Festival also sets itself apart with the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, which is free and open to the public. The 2011 ESSENCE Empowerment Experience will host three full days of socio-political dialogue, health and wellness discussions and spiritual inspiration led by dynamic motivational speakers at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.  Kicking off on Friday (July 1st), the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience will offer a themed day of "Transforming Your Life" with appearances by Steve Harvey and Iyanla Vanzant, as well as an opportunity for attendees to meet the producers and audition for a chance to appear on "Family Feud" hosted by Steve Harvey.  In addition, author Terry McMillan will present an exclusive "book club" experience with up-and-coming authors. On Saturday (July 2nd), ESSENCE will be "Transforming Your Community" through conversations with Rev. Al Sharpton, Soledad O'Brien and Terry McMillan, as well as a panel discussion entitled, "America I Am" featuring: Tavis Smiley, Dr. Cornel West, Iyanla Vanzant, Tom Burrell and Jeff Henderson. In addition, CNN will host a political panel featuring Valerie Jarrett, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Mayor Kasim Reed, moderated by CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Rounding up the weekend on Sunday (July 3rd), ESSENCE will present a day of praise and worship during an "All-Star Gospel Salute to CeCe Winans and Marvin Sapp" featuring Bishop Lester Love, Kierra Sheard, Deitrick Haddon and Dr. Juanita Bynum.

Furthermore, not only will festival goers be able to take in the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, but they can also enjoy the ESSENCE Marketplace, another of the Festival's many daytime offerings, which will showcase quality fine arts, crafts, clothing and jewelry by African-American vendors from all over the world. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will also feature interactive sponsor presentations, radio broadcasts, and celebrity meet-and-greets, including the casts of HBO's Treme and True Blood, as well as many of the top stars from TBS/TNT shows such as House of Payne, Meet the Browns and Franklin & Bash.

Now in its 17th year, the ultimate destination for entertainment and inspiration hosted over 400,000 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 Alicia Keys, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, 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 http://www.essence.com/festival. Join the Festival community: follow us on Twitter @essencemusic #EMF2011 and become a fan of 2011 ESSENCE Music Festival on Facebook.

The presenting sponsor for the 2011 ESSENCE Music Festival is Coca-Cola.  Major sponsors include Coors Light, CoverGirl Queen Collection, Ford, McDonald's, Olay, Pantene, Tide, U.S. Army, Verizon and Wal-Mart; official sponsors include CNN, My Black is Beautiful, State Farm, TNT, TV One and Visa Pre-Paid.

The 2011 ESSENCE Music Festival is executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC, a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI).  GeChar is the executive producer of the 2011 ESSENCE Empowerment Experience.

ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC.:

Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one 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, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood, Window on Our Women (WOW I & II) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For more than 40 years, ESSENCE magazine, which has a brand reach of over 8 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 www.essence.com.

SOURCE ESSENCE Magazine



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