Grammy Award-Winning Superstar USHER Joins the 2011 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL

OCCASION MARKS FIRST TIME USHER TO HEADLINE THE ULTIMATE WEEKEND-LONG EXPERIENCE CONNECTING MUSIC, CULTURE AND COMMUNITY

NEW YORK, May 18, 2011 — ESSENCE is proud to announce that multi-platinum selling, chart- topping, Grammy award-winning powerhouse USHER will headline the 2011 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL being held July 1, 2, and 3 in New Orleans. Joining an already stellar, best-in-class line-up that includes Chaka Kahn, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Kanye West,Mary J. Blige and New EditionUSHER will headline the main stage of the Superdome on opening night, Friday, July 1.  Known for his mesmerizing live stage show, intricate choreography and catalogue of Top 40 Hits, USHER will perform an electrifying set, allowing Festival-goers a chance to share their 4th of July weekend with one of the most iconic artists of the decade.

Although the chart-topping recording artist has a long standing relationship with ESSENCE, this year marks the first timeUSHER will grace the stage as a headliner at the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL, the largest African-American music and culture event in the U.S. Attracting an estimated 400,000 attendees, the 17th annual ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL continues to be the only music and empowerment festival in the U.S., in addition to a hallmark of New Orleans tourism.

“We are honored to bring the incredible USHER to the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL to headline opening night,” says ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks.  “Fans can look forward to an incredible line-up this 4th of July weekend– with more than 40 of the world’s best performers on 5 stages – as a once in a lifetime experience!”

Also joining the line-up are Morris Day & The Time, Loose Ends, Noel Gourdin, and Timothy Bloom.

The 2011 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL night-by-night line-up (updated as of 5/18) is as follows:

Friday, July 1Usher, Charlie Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Boyz II Men, Macy Gray, Dwele, Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle, Mint Condition, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Tank, Miguel, Noel Gourdin, Mavis Staples, Irma Thomas

Saturday, July 2Kanye West, Jill Scott, Chaka Khan, El Debarge, Eric Benet, Timothy Bloom, Morris Day & The Time, Shamarr Allen and The Underdawgs, Stephanie Mills, Charmaine Neville Band, Naughty by Nature, To Be Continued Brass Band

Sunday, July 3Mary J Blige, New Edition, Trey Songz, Kem, Loose Ends, Hal Linton, Kourtney Heart, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Rebirth Brass Band, Kelly Price, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Trin-i-Tee 5:7, Brian Courtney Wilson, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Hot 8 Brass Band

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 Alicia Keys, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, 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, Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams, among others.

For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest updates and to sign up for the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL newsletter, visit http://www.essencemusicfestival.com.  Join the Festival community: follow us on Twitter @essencemusic #EMF2011 and become a fan of 2011 Essence Music Festival on Facebook.

The presenting sponsor for the 2011 Essence Music Festival is Coca-Cola.  Major sponsors include Coors Light, CoverGirl Queen Collection, Ford, McDonald’s, Olay, Pantene, Tide, U.S. Army, Verizon and Wal-Mart; official sponsors include CNN,My Black is Beautiful, State Farm, TNT and Visa Pre-Paid.

The 2011 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL is executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC, a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI).

ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC.:

Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media and communications company dedicated to African-American women. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online, the Essence brand is “Where Black Women Come First”.  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, Window on Our Women (WOW I & II) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For more than 40 years, ESSENCE magazine, which has a brand reach of over 8 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information 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.

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