NEW YORK, June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Every year over 400,000 people from around the world descend upon New Orleans for the only music festival that offers show-stopping performances from top entertainers, free inspiring and empowering conversations and messages from the world's leading innovators, leaders, and thinkers, plus four days of family and cultural experiences: the ESSENCE Music Festival. This year, in its 18th year anniversary, the 2012 ESSENCE Musical Festival presents a newly expanded four day weekend celebrating the "Power of Our Voice" on July 5, 6, 7 and 8 with compelling programming featuring the biggest names in entertainment and the nation's most influential speakers, artists, authors and educators.
The 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival will once again offer a world class musical line up which includes the legendary Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Charlie Wilson, Trey Songz, Kevin Hart, Ledisi, Eve, Marsha Ambrosius and more. The line-up also includes the return of Grammy-Award winning singer D'Angelo to the Festival; the newly added Anthony Hamilton, who will thrill his fans from The Superdome's main stage for the first time; R&B and soul music king and ESSENCE Music Festival staple Charlie Wilson who will close out the main stage on Friday night; popular gospel duo Mary Mary who will perform on Saturday (changed from Friday); and Leah LaBelle who has been announced to perform at the SuperLounge. The official host each night will be Nephew Tommy, comedian and co-host of the Steve Harvey Morning Show. As an added bonus, celebrated media personality Steve Harvey himself will take the stage on Sunday for a special tribute to the one and only Aretha Franklin.
Other highlights include:
- The Festival kicks off July 5th with a full day youth empowerment experience at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, culminating with the first ever youth empowerment concert on the New & Next stage that night at the Superdome.
- Actress Rocsi Diaz will host the first New & Next concert featuring a roster of today's hottest young artists, including the newly added Katlyn Nichol and Coco Jones, hip-hop royalty Diggy Simmons, R&B pop group The OMG Girlz and New Orleans' marching band The Roots of Music. Sponsored by Verizon Wireless and community partner Capital One, tickets for the New and Next Stage concert are available at essencemusicfestival.com.
- Doug E. Fresh kicks off the first free and daily ESSENCE Music Festival Block Party before each of the nightly concerts that will take place in Champions Square July 6-8 from 3-6pm. Hosted by newly added broadcast personalities Amanda Seales and Carla Ferrell, Festival attendees will be able to enjoy lively DJ sets from Beverly Bond, MC Lyte and DJ Spinderella with Captain Charles added to the lineup that includes Kourtney Heart, Dee 1, and F. Stokes.
- The 2012 ESSENCE Musical Festival theme of the "Power of Our Voice" will be celebrated throughout the three day free and open to the public ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, featuring Steve Harvey, Soledad O'Brien, Fredricka Whitfield, Dr. Steve Perry, Rev. Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris Perry, Rep. Maxine Waters, Roland Martin, Iyanla Vanzant, Terrence J, Lisa Raye McCoy, Tamar Braxton, Trina Braxton, Kobie Brown and 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.
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, Beyoncé, 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 and more.
For information about ticket sales 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, TBS, 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 Communications Inc.