ESSENCE Presents: R&B Star Kicks Off Its Search for America's Next Singing Sensation

Winner to Receive a One-Year Artist Management Contract and a Coveted Performance Debut During the 2011 Essence Music Festival

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Feb 09, 2011, 16:06 ET from ESSENCE Magazine

NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Do you have hidden talent just waiting to be unleashed? kicks off ESSENCE Presents: R&B Star—its search for the next R&B singing sensation.  Selected by a panel of celebrity judges, industry professionals and ultimately the fans, the winner will receive a one-year artist management contract and each finalist will receive a once-in-lifetime opportunity to hit the stage for a featured performance during the 2011 Essence Music Festival (July 1st-3rd in New Orleans). The grand-prize winner will not only have the opportunity to receive national visibility as they showcase their talents, but the contest will also catapult the winner's music career and dreams.

Beginning in March, ESSENCE along with star-maker Perri "Pebbles" Reid will be hitting New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta to give up-and-coming singers a chance to launch their careers and make their dreams come true. There will also be online auditions via for contestants who are unable to make it to the local market castings. The grand prize winner will not only perform for thousands during the Festival, but will also receive a one-year artist management contract with Kevin Liles, music industry veteran and president of KWL Enterprises. Pebbles and Liles are both music industry veterans who each have a proven track record for developing talent—including best selling acts TLC, Trey Songz and more. Pebbles, a Grammy-nominated & platinum artist, will also serve as executive producer of the contest's online component.

"ESSENCE is committed to Black music as a universal art form that sustains our culture and ignites our passions," said ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks. "With the launch of ESSENCE Presents: R&B Star, we are not only searching for America's next singing sensation, but we are transforming the life of one truly talented and driven individual to represent ESSENCE to the world as the voice and soul of our community."

All of the market castings will feature a panel of celebrity judges—including Pebbles and Liles—who are all established veterans in the music industry who range from artists, producers and managers. The judges will narrow down the field to six contestants from the in-market castings and online submissions. The six contestants will begin their road to the Festival with a one-week trip to Atlanta for an artist boot camp, where they'll get to work with the best in the business to hone all aspects of their craft—including media training, styling, voice lessons and more. Once the artist boot camp ends, voting will begin via online at and mobile devices. Aspiring artists are encouraged to "bring their best game" to each casting—as you never know which celebrity judge will be in each market.

In early June, voting will close and three finalists will be chosen to take the final journey to New Orleans to the Festival. On-site, there will be daily appearances during the daytime sessions at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, as well as a main stage moment during the nighttime concerts at the Louisiana Superdome. The two remaining finalists will be announced on Saturday night, followed by a main stage moment in front of the EMF crowd. By process of elimination, the winner will be announced Sunday at the Convention Center and will offer an exclusive performance on Sunday night. viewers will also have the opportunity to watch the entire process unfold via online and help choose the winner. The site will feature photo galleries and interactive webisodes of the "best and worst" from the casting sessions, judges' commentary, boot camp highlights and the finale performance at EMF.

ESSENCE Presents: R&B Star is sponsored by Ford.  For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @essenceonline, and join in the discussion on

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 and Smart Beauty consumer insights, the Essence Book Club,, 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