Mary J. Blige and Lionel Richie to Join the 2007 Essence Music Festival

R&B’s reigning queen Mary J. Blige and chart-topping R&B veteran Lionel Richie will each join the 2007 Essence Music Festival for headlining performances on Saturday, July 7, 2007, it was announced today by Essence Communications Inc. As the nation’s largest annual African-American event celebrating Black music and culture, the 2007 Essence Music Festival will welcome these two talented and world-renown artists back to New Orleans to take center stage at the Louisiana Superdome. “It is tremendously exciting to announce that Mary J. Blige and Lionel Richie will be ‘Coming Home’ with the Essence Music Festival in 2007,” said Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications Inc. “The Essence Music Festival genuinely appreciates both of these gifted performers. Mary J. Blige is a phenomenal artist celebrating a banner year and Lionel Richie is a legendary talent enjoying extraordinary success back at the top of the charts — making these two performances not to be missed!” Continuing to dominate the charts with her album The Breakthrough, Mary J. Blige is recognized as one of today’s brightest R&B stars. Blige was the winner of nine Billboard Music Awards and two American Music Awards in 2006, and has been nominated for eight Grammy awards in 2007. Blige’s 2007 performance marks her seventh appearance at the Essence Music Festival over the past 12 years. Legendary singer, songwriter and Grammy award winner, Lionel Richie delivered his latest album Coming Home in 2006 to both critical acclaim and great commercial success. Nominated for two Grammy awards in 2007, including “Best R&B Album” and “Best Male R&B Song”, Coming Home represents Richie’s return to his R&B roots and coincidently serves as the theme of the 2007 Essence Music Festival in honor of the homecoming of the “biggest party of the year” to New Orleans. “The Essence Music Festival is like a family reunion for me,” commented Lionel Richie. “My last performance there was phenomenal. The energy and warmth of such an enormous, yet familiar, crowd is absolutely overwhelming and I am so excited to be ‘Coming Home’.” Mary J. Blige and Lionel Richie will join a stellar line-up, which includes Beyonce, who was previously announced as headlining talent for Friday, July 6, 2007. More exciting and talented performers will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets for the evening concerts are on sale immediately at ticketmaster.com, (800) 488-5252. For updates on performers, hotel accommodations, ticket prices and weekly promotions log on to http://www.essence.com. The 2007 Essence Music Festival is produced by Essence Festivals in association with Festival Productions Inc. — New Orleans and AEG Live. Essence Festivals LLC is a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI). ECI is also the publisher of ESSENCE magazine. ESSENCE, after 36 years, continues to be the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women.

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