In an all-star lineup, Ciara, Ludacris, Ne-Yo, The O’Jays with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill, Robin Thicke and Steve Harvey have been added to the Essence Music Festival roster, it was announced today by Essence Communications Inc. These artists join previously announced Beyonce, Chris Brown, Lionel Richie, Mary J. Blige and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. “Ciara, Ludacris, Ne-Yo and Robin Thicke are amazing performers, new to the Essence Music Festival stage and we’re so thrilled to have them,” says Michelle Ebanks, president, Essence Communications Inc. “The O’Jays with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill, along with Steve Harvey are all a part of the Essence Music Festival family and we welcome them back to New Orleans for our coming home celebration.” The annual celebration will also kick off with a star-studded opening night gospel extravaganza. The night-by-night schedule of performances will include: THURSDAY, JULY 5 – Main Stage Gospel Opening Ceremony Ciara Ludacris The O’Jays with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill FRIDAY, JULY 6 – Main Stage Robin Thicke Steve Harvey Chris Brown Beyonce SATURDAY, JULY 7 – Main Stage Ne-Yo Lionel Richie Mary J. Blige Maze featuring Frankie Beverly Tickets for the evening concerts are on sale immediately at ticketmaster.com, (800) 488-5252. A portion of the proceeds will support the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools in New Orleans. For updates on performers, hotel accommodations, ticket prices and weekly promotions log on to http://www.essence.com. Sponsors of the 2007 Essence Music Festival include presenting sponsor, Coca-Cola; major sponsors Budweiser, McDonald’s, and the U.S. Army; and official sponsors L’Oreal Paris and Vaseline. Additional sponsors will be announced in the future. 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.