Essence Fest opens July 4th with music, barbecue

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Essence Festival is embracing the July 4th holiday with an opening day of live music and family-style barbecue on the bank of the Mississippi River.

Essence is one of the premiere music festivals celebrating black culture and music. It's been held every Independence Day weekend since its inception in 1995, when it marked the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine.

This year opening day falls on July 4th, so stages have been set up along the riverfront and will feature free performances by Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, the Stooges Brass Band and others.

The festival runs through Sunday with a lineup of nearly 50 acts – a number of them Essence veterans. On the roster are Beyonce, Jill Scott, Maxwell, New Edition, Charlie Wilson, LL Cool J and Brandy.

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