Mary J. Blige to headline Essence fest

New Orleans event is slated for early July

NEW YORK -- Mary J. Blige will return to New Orleans this year as a headlining performer and official spokeswoman of the annual Essence Music Festival, set for the weekend of July 2.

Blige will be joining other entertainers, including artists, speakers, authors and community leaders.

"We're thrilled to have Mary J. Blige on board for this year's Essence Music Festival," said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications. "Her history with the Essence brand, both with the festival and the magazine, makes her a great spokesperson for this year's festival and we're looking forward to working with her over the next few months."

Blige has performed eight times at Essence -- most recently in 2008 -- and this year will help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Essence Magazine. Past performers include Alicia Keys, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Chaka Khan, Destiny's Child, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, LL Cool J and Luther Vandross.

Special weekend ticket packages and other information about the event can be found on