Essence Festivals, LLC., officials announced today that Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, will perform at the 2006 Essence Music Festival, July 1, 2 and 3, which will be held in its new temporary home at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas. ESSENCE, however, continues to work closely with city and state officials to rebuild the city of New Orleans. Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige, known for her chart-topping albums including No More Drama, My Life and her hotly-anticipated release The Breakthrough, has performed to sold-out audiences and received critical acclaim for over a decade. Additional stellar artists will be announced in coming weeks. The Essence Music Festival, known as “the party with a purpose,” is the nation’s largest annual African-American event and gathering of musical talent in the world. The Festival has become a destination of choice for families and friends as they schedule their reunions. This multigenerational Festival offers free Empowerment Seminars during the day and exciting performances at night, where Festivalgoers can dance and sing along with the biggest names in entertainment-rhythm and blues, classic soul, hip-hop, neo-soul and jazz. Tickets are on sale at ticketmaster.com or (800) 488-5252. Tickets are $45, $56, $67, $72, $83, $110 and a very limited number in the Gold Circle section at $165. All tickets are subject to additional service charges. For hotel accommodations call (888) 508-5731. Chevrolet is a sponsor of the Essence Music Festival. Additional sponsors will be announced at a later date.