09 Essence Music Festival
Beyonce, Maxwell, Ne-Yo, John Legend, Robin Thicke
-- but where's Maze?
Beyonce is back at the Essence Music Festival.
So far the 2009 Essence Music Festival's roster is notable for an abundance of relatively fresh faces and the absence of a familiar one.
Last summer, Essence Fest officials announced from the stage of the Superdome that Beyonce was already booked for '09. She'll join Ne-Yo, Maxwell, Anita Baker, Al Green, John Legend, Robin Thicke, Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, Teena Marie, Solange and Eric Benet at the 15th Essence festival July 3, 4 and 5.
The Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Raphael Saadiq, Zap Mama, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Lalah Hathaway, Janelle Monae, Jazmine Sullivan, Ledisi, the Brand New Heavies and Dan Dyer are also on the schedule. Jonathan Slocumb will emcee all three nights.
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"To mark the Essence Music Festival's 15-year anniversary, we wanted to really celebrate all the forms of music that have been central to the event's history," said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc., the festival's parent company.
"We made every effort to come up with a special lineup that's multi-generational and spans diverse genres. It brings together heritage artists, new chart-topping acts and local favorites in New Orleans."
One notable omission from the announced roster: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, the closing act for all 14 previous Essence festivals, including the 2006 post-Katrina Essence-in-exile in Houston.
Longtime Beverly publicist Reve Gibson confirmed late Wednesday that Maze is not performing at Essence this year. "We're definitely not doing it," Gibson said, without elaborating.
Essence organizers plan to reveal additional acts in the months leading up to the festival, along with the night-by-night roster.
Augmenting the nighttime concerts at the Dome are free, daytime empowerment seminars at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The July 3 sessions include "Black Women in the Media" featuring former "Apprentice" star Omarosa.