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NEW ORLEANS — Newly engaged queen of soul Aretha Franklin is headlining this summer’s Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, and its other top performers include Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Stephanie Mills, Charlie Wilson and Keyshia Cole.
The event, scheduled for July 6-8, is billed as one of the largest gatherings of black artists in the country. As in years past, musical performances will be held at the Superdome while seminars with influential speakers, artists and authors will take place at the city’s convention center.
“When you think about the opportunity to be there and experience Miss Aretha Franklin, performing for tens of thousands of her most avid fans, I just get chills,” Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc., said Wednesday. “To have Mary J. Blige return, she just owns that house like few others can. It will be exciting to see what she brings to the festival this year with her new music out. I’m expecting another memorable performance. Then there’s fan favorite Fantasia, who brings excitement, energy and passion to every show and, of course, Charlie Wilson, who is truly a showstopper.”