Essence Music Festival 2011 Kicks Off in New Orleans With Chaka Khan

The 2011 Essence Music Festival is looking like a weekend of amazing entertainment with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry along with the nation’s most dynamic speakers, authors and leaders. The festival is not only celebrating the success of the iconic magazine, but it’s also an agent of African American empowerment coast-to-coast, and New Orleans in particular.

At the kick-off press conference presented by Coca-Cola, Essence representatives, the Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, and other participating sponsors like Verizon and McDonald’s, talked about their excitement to be a part of this year’s festival as it celebrates its 17th year.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien

A special appearance by music legend Chaka Khan and the music of New Orleans’ own Rebirth Brass Band, solidified the festival weekend’s theme of transformation through family, community and faith.

Editor in chief of Essence Magazine, Constance C.R. White, spoke about the direction of the publication saying, “The magazine has been — and under my watch will continue to be — a place where women can be inspired, informed, and rejuvenated.”  White went on to discuss the Essence empowerment experience and the impressive upcoming features by artists such as Usher, Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson, and Trey Songz just to name a few.

After a briefing of the exciting activities, we attended the Essence reception hosted at Harrah’s Casino where attendees enjoyed old school music, to-die-for hors d’oeuvres, and the August issue of Essence magazine with actress Viola Davis gracing the cover. We even spotted a celebrity appearance by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien who mixed and mingled in the crowd.

Stay with us as we bring you the hottest photos, exclusive interviews, concert footage, and more from the 2011 Essence Music Festival. —mckenzie harris

Music legend Chaka Khan and Essence Music Festival press conference speakers and sponsors




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