Mary J. Blige may be the Queen of the Essence Festival, returning as a headliner to the 2011 Essence Music Festival, which takes place in the Louisiana Superdome July 1-3. Kanye West caps a year of critical success for his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album with an appearance at Essence Fest as well, along with Jill Scott and Trey Songz.
This year’s festival plans to celebrate the roots of R&B with blues, funk and neo-soul artists including Mavis Staples (who won a Grammy this past Sunday for her recent album You are Not Alone), Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Boyz II Men, Stephanie Mills, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Macy Gray, Dwele, Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle, Mint Condition, Kelly Price, and MC Lyte. New Orleanians on the bill include Irma Thomas, Kourtney Heart, Rebirth Brass Band, Charmaine Neville Band, and TBC Brass Band.
According to Michelle Ebanks, President of Essence Communications, “Our mission this year was to celebrate community through the prism of the art form that continues to tell our reader’s stories: R&B. From the Main Stage to the Super Lounge, we’ve assembled an unforgettable roster of talent who provide a snapshot of this music’s ability to connect with audiences unlike few genres. Stay tuned. We have additional names to come. This is going to be an Essence Music Festival that attendees will talk about for a long time.”