July 1st, 2011
05:54 PM ET
There will be plenty of fireworks this weekend, but they'll be on stage as the Essence Music Festival heads back to New Orleans, once again bringing out top-notch entertainment.
The festival, celebrating its 17th anniversary, is focusing on an entire “weekend of transformation,” and started things off today with a “transforming your life” theme, including appearances from Steve Harvey and Iyanla Vanzant.
In addition, said the president of Essence Communications Michelle Ebanks in a statement, the fest is going to pay honor to the “roots of R&B,” and will feature more than 40 performances, including sets from Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, New Edition, Kanye West, Jill Scott, Chaka Khan and Trey Songz.
Saturday’s focus will be “transforming your community,” and among the panel discussions will be one hosted by CNN focused on politics featuring White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Mayor Kasim Reed, and will be moderated by CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
“Every year we look to share a one-of-a-kind celebration that entertains, inspires and empowers mind, body and soul,” Ebanks said. “Between our incredible music line up, the fun and informative offerings of the Essence Empowerment Experience and the many interactive on-site sponsor activities, the 2011 Essence Music Festival is sure to be an unforgettable experience.”
CNN is an official sponsor of the Essence Music Festival which starts today and runs through July 3.
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