2008 Essence Music Festival Begins in New Orleans

If you live in the New Orleans area, you’re no doubt aware that the Essence Music Festival is being held this weekend from July 4-6, 2008. The annual festival of black music and culture has been running since 1995 and this year’s edition features an excellent lineup of performers including: Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Morris Day and The Time, Chaka Khan, Chris Brown, LL Cool J, and a tribute to the legendary Patti LaBelle.

NowPublic would love to include your photos, videos, and stories as part of our coverage. If you’re attending this year’s festivities, please add your work to this post.

From her rebuilt but not yet fully furnished home, Irma Thomas anchors her faith in the rebirth of New Orleans to the return of the Essence Music Festival.

The festival, which runs Friday to Sunday, celebrates black music and culture and moved to Houston in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina smashed New Orleans. It returned in 2007, and organizers say Essence is now re-establishing its place in the city.

An estimated 200,000 people attended the festival last year, supplying a needed injection of business into the city’s hurricane-hammered tourism industry.

“The festival is so special to New Orleans,” said Thomas, who’s still trying to find furniture to replace the pieces lost when Katrina sent floodwater crashing through her home in August 2005.

Essence headliners this year include Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, LL Cool J, and Morris Day and The Time as well as Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. Maze has closed out the festival each year since its inception in 1995.

This year there will be a tribute to Patti LaBelle, the soul diva whose career spans four decades. Patti LaBelle released 10 solo albums and six with the group that bears her name, LaBelle.

Saturday night’s tribute on the main stage of the Louisiana Superdome will include performances by two original members of LaBelle — Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx — as well as performances by Chaka Khan, Angie Stone, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Ruby Amanfu and Thomas.

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