NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Celebrities and fans arrive en masse for the start of the annual Essence Music Festival, which is held over the Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans.
Grammy Award-winning singer Janet Jackson is among Friday's opening night headliners for the ticketed concerts in the Louisiana Superdome, while actors Bill Cosby and Jada Pinkett Smith are among those featured for the event's free, daily seminars in the convention center.
Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc., says the festival is where Essence the magazine comes to life. This year, the magazine celebrates 40 years of enlightening and empowering women to live their best lives. This year's festival, she says, reflects that.
Other performances include: Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Gladys Knight, Trey Songz, Raphael Saadiq (SUH-deek), and Charlie Wilson.