Lionel Richie, Ryan Leslie, Melanie Fiona Charlie Wilson And Little Freddie King Join Line-Up For Essence Music Festival 2009

Lionel Richie, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Ryan Leslie, Melanie Fiona, Charlie Wilson and Little Freddie King have just been added to the line-up for this year’s ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL, set for this July 3, 4 and 5 in New Orleans. These acts join the already announced line-up of talent that includes Beyoncé, Maxwell, Anita Baker, Al Green, John Legend, Keri Hilson, Robin Thicke, Salt-N-Pepa, Ne-Yo, Raphael Saadiq, En Vogue, Eric Benet, Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Teena Marie, and more than 30 acts (the full day-by-day line-up will be announced in the coming weeks).

This year, the weekend-long 15th Anniversary celebration of music and empowerment will conclude with a special ESSENCE ICONS TRIBUTE to Frankie Beverly and Maze, the group who have closed the annual New Orleans festival since its 1995 inception. This one night only event will feature a gathering of stars of R&B and soul music who will come together to honor the legacy of Frankie Beverly and Maze. A full list of talent for this special performance will be announced in the coming weeks.

The updated acts:

Frankie Beverly and Maze: For nearly thirty years, Frankie Beverly and Maze have created a sound that is distinctive, passionate, creative, original, soulful, honest and powerful. The group continues to be one of the most requested at music festivals throughout the world drawing major crowds and have earned a reputation for having one of the best live shows in R&B. Frankie Beverly and Maze have closed the show for the past 14 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL’s including 2006’s post-Katrina festival in Houston.

Lionel Richie: This global superstar is also an Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning American singer, songwriter, record producer who has sold more than 100 million records.

Charlie Wilson: As the former lead singer of the funkadelic brotherly trio, the GAP Band, Charlie Wilson is known as one of the most familiar voices in R&B music. His new CD, UNCLE CHARLIE, was released in February and debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the Billboard Hip Hop/R&B Chart and includes the #1 single, “There Goes My Baby.” In addition, Wilson is currently on the road starring opposite Robin Givens and Mel Jackson in the touring gospel play “Save Me From My Secrets.” More information can be found at

Ryan Leslie: Singer/producer Ryan Leslie’s self-titled debut album was released this past February. Billboard magazine said, “With its smooth melodies (‘Just Right’), fresh beats (‘Diamond Girl’) and effortlessly suave lyrics (‘Quicksand’), the album satisfies from beginning to end.”

Melanie Fiona: Singer/songwriter Melanie Fiona’s debut album The Bridge reveals a sweet push-and-pull between countless elements of herself. United by a singular passion, Melanie Fiona’s sound bridges past and present with an artistic and consistent blending of classic soul samples. It’s all held together by a unique quality, something that is innately her, much like the other artists she mentions as influences: Bob Marley, Sade, and Patsy Cline.

Little Freddie King: An acclaimed international blues artist/American roots guitar player from New Orleans. His live performances have enthralled audiences at music festivals throughout North America and Europe.

“From Lionel Richie to Charlie Wilson and Ryan Leslie, we have worked hard to create a musical line-up that’s appealing to all of our fans,” said Michelle Ebanks, president, Essence Communications Inc. “As the Essence Music Festival line-up has come together, we are thrilled to once again confirm Frankie Beverly and Maze as the act to close out our 15th anniversary celebration. We’re looking forward to another great weekend of music and empowerment.”

Essence Music Festival To Celebrate Its 15th Anniversary July 3, 4 And 5 In New Orleans

Coming off its most successful year ever with more than 270,000 attendees this past July, the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL returns to New Orleans July 3, 4 and 5, 2009 with headliner Beyoncé. In celebration of the event’s 15th anniversary, the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL will offer a 15% discount on select tickets from December 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009.

The annual weekend of entertainment and empowerment–hailed by USA TODAY (7-7-08) as having “achieved a balance of old-school homage and cutting-edge innovation at the Superdome”–will once again dazzle and uplift with an unprecedented three days of cultural celebrations over the festive Fourth of July holiday weekend. As in past years, musical performances are slated for the New Orleans Superdome and empowerment seminars are set to take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

“As we plan the Essence Music Festival’s 15th anniversary in New Orleans next July, we are looking to create an environment that celebrates our history and looks to our future,” said Michelle Ebanks, president, Essence Communications Inc. “We invite everyone to join us as we mark this milestone occasion with friends old and new.”

With more than twelve musical performances a day from some of today’s greatest African-American artists, the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL sets itself apart from other music events around the world by including three full days of empowerment seminars. The empowerment seminars–which are free of charge–are open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Initial seminars for next year include Women’s Day: Getting the Life You Deserve featuring Dr. Juanita Bynum (Friday, July 3); State of Black America II: Realizing the Dream hosted by Roland Martin (Saturday, July 4); An All-Star Tribute to Bishop T.D. Jakes (Sunday, July 5).

The 2008 outing featured headlining performances from Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Chris Rock and Rihanna, with Empowerment Seminar appearances by Tyler Perry, Dr. Bill Cosby, Rev. Al Sharpton, Mayor C. Ray Nagin, Hill Harper, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Dr. Juanita Bynum and Tom Joyner. As the event concluded, concert attendees learned that platinum singer-songwriter-producer and actress Beyoncé would make her third appearance at the 2009 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL. Look for announcements about additional performers and seminars in early 2009.

With some of the biggest names in entertainment and the nation’s most influential speakers, artists, authors and leaders, the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL is the nation’s largest annual gathering of African-American music and culture. What began in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ESSENCE magazine has now grown into one of the country’s “Top 10 Leading Brand Events” by Advertising Age.

In its 15-year history, the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL has featured an array of performers including Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Chris Brown, Destiny’s Child, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Kanye West, The Isley Brothers, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, The O’Jays, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams.

The 2009 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL is executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC and produced by Rehage Entertainment. Essence Festivals LLC is a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI).

General admission daily tickets are available for $51, $67 or $79; floor seats are $92 and $121; Gold Circle tickets are $173; all plus applicable service charges. Note: the 15% discount only applies when tickets are purchased for all three days and does not apply to floor or Gold Circle tickets. To purchase tickets, visit or call 800-277-1700.