20th annual Essence Fest kicks off in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Music, food and families will fill the riverfront alongside the Mississippi River as the 20th annual Essence Festival kicks off in New Orleans.

DJ Marquis started the party in Woldenberg Park Thursday. The day also includes live music by New Orleans’ Corey Henry’s Treme Funktet and national acts including Cupid and gospel singer Erica Campbell.

The celebration of black culture and R&B music started as a one-time party in 1995. It has since blossomed into an annual festival filled with music, food, entertainment and empowerment seminars.

This year’s night concert headliners in the Superdome include Prince, Lionel Richie, Charlie Wilson, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige and Trey Songz and Nas, who perform on Thursday.

The festival runs through July 6.

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