Even though it is still several months away, preparation for the 21st annual ESSENCE Festival has already been underway, with the first batch of performers being announced today, and, by the looks of it, this year will be as big as ever. Artists tapped thus far for the festival, which takes place Thursday, July 2nd to Sunday, July 5th in New Orleans, are such veteran ESSENCE performers as Mary J. Blige, India.Arie, Common, Erykah Badu, Doug E. Fresh, Kool Moe Dee, Teedra Moses, Kelly Price, Eric Roberson, Kindred the Family Soul, Bilal, Robert Glasper, Bilal and Goapele.
Meanwhile, several performers will be making their debut festival appearance, including Kendrick Lamar, Trombone Shorty, Mystikal, Nico & Vinz, SZA and Esperanza Spalding. This year's festival will also see the reunion of Floetry, with members Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart returning to the ESSENCE stage together for the first time since their acrimonious split several years ago.
ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks expressed her excitement about this year's roster so far. "On the heels of the ESSENCE Festival's epic 20th anniversary celebration in 2014, we're delighted to announce a selection of the best artists and biggest names in entertainment who will take the stage at the Superdome this summer," she said in a statement.
Comedy will also take center stage this year, with comedians Nephew Tommy of the Steve Harvey Morning Show and Luenell set to host this year's festivities on the main stage. Fans of Kevin Hart will be happy to hear that the comedian and actor will headline the Now Playing Concert, which takes place on Thursday, July 2nd.
Other artists announced today include Lianne La Havas, Tweet, Jeff Bradshaw, Avery*Sunshine, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Mali Music, Tank & The Bangas, Dee-1, Tonya Bond Cannon, Leon Bridges and Andra Day. Be sure to stay tuned because even more artists are set to be announced soon. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, February 25th so be sure to head over to ESSENCE.com to cop your tickets before they're gone.