EssencelogoCelebrities, National and Community Leaders Join Essence To Widen Pathway of Success for Underserved Youth

A Bigger Party and a Deeper Purpose!

NEW YORK, May 24 /PRNewswire/ — Essence Festivals LLC announced today the schedule for the Coca-Cola Presents the 2006 Essence Music Festival Empowerment Seminar Series and ESSENCE Cares! A Call to Action to Secure Our Youth a special initiative. ESSENCE Cares! was created to help rescue vulnerable youth and restore the lives of Hurricane Katrina survivors, while addressing critical issues facing Black America. Poverty and unemployment, equal educational systems and gang violence, the ongoing effects of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina-all are a cry for help that can no longer be ignored. This initiative will be launched at the festival’s popular daytime Empowerment Seminars, July 1, 2, and 3 at Houston’s Reliant Park-making this year’s Festival a "bigger party with a deeper purpose." In one amazing extended holiday weekend, national leaders, celebrities and festival attendees will commit to work together to create a brighter future for underserved children. These seminars are free and open to the public.

ESSENCE is asking Festivalgoers to come, listen, learn and choose their method of support from reliable national organizations, including the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Urban League, Operation Hope and M.A.D. D.A.D.S. An enormous push toward mentoring is at the heart of the initiative and the goal is to enlist millions of stable and caring African Americans to take up the charge.

The ESSENCE Cares! initiative has a phenomenal lineup of speakers and performers including: Yolanda Adams, John Hope Bryant, Common, Angela Davis, Michael Eric Dyson, Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., Marian Wright Edelman, Danny Glover, Bruce Gordon, Congressman Alexander Green, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Mathew Knowles, Queen Latifah, Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee and Maxine Waters, Donnie McClurkin, Mo’Nique, Marc Morial, Shemar Moore, Nas, Kevin Powell, Jill Scott, Reverend Al Sharpton, Iyanla Vanzant, Reverend Dr. Renita Weems, Terrie Williams and many others (complete schedule attached).

The Coca-Cola Presents the Essence Music Festival, known as "the party with a purpose," is the nation’s largest annual African-American event and the largest gathering of musical talent in the world. The Festival has become a destination of choice for families and friends as they schedule their reunions. This multigenerational Festival offers free inspirational and interactive Empowerment Seminars during the day and exciting performances at night, where Festivalgoers can dance and sing along with the biggest names in entertainment-R&B, classic soul, hip-hop, neo-soul and jazz-all on three stages within Reliant Stadium.

    The night-by-night main stage schedule of performances is:       SATURDAY, JULY 1    SUNDAY, JULY 2        MONDAY, JULY 3      Mary J. Blige       Diddy and Friends     Maze featuring Frankie Beverly      Earth, Wind & Fire  New Edition           Toni Braxton      Mo'Nique            Bobby Brown           Cedric the Entertainer      LL Cool J           Steve Harvey          Charlie Wilson      Yolanda Adams       Jaheim                Keyshia Cole                          Chris Brown     Main Stage Host, Jonathan Slocumb       Lounges             Lounges                  Lounges      Goapele             Kindred The Family Soul  Musiq      Doug E. Fresh and   Brand New Heavies        Loose Ends       Slick Rick         Myra Washington          Rebirth Brass Band      C.O.C.O Brown &     DJ Raj Smoove            Michael Ward       The Phat Cat       Players      Captain Charles 

The Essence Marketplace will showcase artists from throughout the country who offer an array of quality arts and crafts that reflect Black culture. The marketplace will also include sponsor activities, celebrity meet-and-greets, Festival souvenirs and a book fair with author book signings.

The Festival, set for July 1, 2 and 3, will take place in its new interim home-state-of-the-art Reliant Park in Houston, Texas-a city with a dynamic melting pot of cultures and a venue for world-class shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

Tickets are on sale at, (800) 488-5252 or (713) 629-3700 in Houston. Tickets are $45, $56, $67, $72, $83, and $110. All tickets are subject to additional service charges. For hotel accommodations, call (888) 508-5731. For more Coca-Cola Presents the Essence Music Festival and ESSENCE Cares! Information, see the July 2006 issue of ESSENCE or log on to

The Coca-Cola Company is the Festival’s presenting sponsor for the ninth consecutive year. The Coca-Cola Presents the 2006 Essence Music Festival’s major sponsors are Budweiser, Kraft Foods, Chevrolet, McDonald’s and Verizon Communications. In addition, Level Vodka, Southwest Airlines, U.S. Army and Wells Fargo will serve as official sponsors for the Festival. Additional sponsors will be announced at a later date.

The Coca-Cola Presents the 2006 Essence Music Festival is produced by Essence Festivals LLC in association with Festival Productions of New Orleans. Essence Festivals LLC is a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI). ECI is also the publisher of ESSENCE magazine. ESSENCE, after 36 years, continues to be the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women.

    Coca-Cola Presents the 2006 Essence Music Festival Empowerment Seminar                                   Schedule*          ESSENCE Cares! A Call to Action to Secure our Youth Initiative                           Hosted By Susan L. Taylor      Saturday, July 1     "Peace is Power," hosted by Kevin Powell, author and community activist 

Opening remarks by ESSENCE’s co-founder Edward Lewis and Congressman Alexander Green

    Ritual to Honor our Ancestor and Our Children by Iyanla Vanzant      A conversation with Nas and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson 

Spoken Word Presentation by Janean Livingston, 2005 Indy Poetr
y Slam Champion

Ending the Over incarceration of African-American Youth, by activist and professor Angela Davis

Community Call: What You can Do Right Now, with Kia Barrow, of Critical Resistance

    Music and the Word From the Heart with Gospel sensation Yolanda Adams      Comments from Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee 

Ending Violence in Our Communities, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, and former gang members. Moderated by Terrie Williams

Helping and Healing Our Youth, keynote address by Bishop T.D. Jakes

Sunday, July 2

"Reawakening The Spirit," hosted by minister and author Reverend Marcia L. Dyson

Opening Remarks by ESSENCE president Michelle Ebanks

Sunday Service with Donnie McClurkin, Reverend Dr. Renita Weems and the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Choir

Picking Up the Pieces After the Storms: Healing and Restoring Lives with Marc Morial president and CEO of the National Urban League

Breakdown to Breakthroughs, with author Terrie Williams

20 Things We Should Start and Stop Doing in Our Relationships, presented by Mo’Nique

Iyanla Vanzant will deliver an inspirational message regarding love and relationships

The Children of Katrina: Securing Their Future with founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman

Our Community, Our Responsibility featuring John Hope Bryant chairman and CEO of Operation Hope

Saving our Sons and Daughters, a keynote address by actor Jamie Foxx

I Am My Brother’s Keeper, A Community Call: A Pledge to Mentor Young Black by chairman emeritus of 100 Black Men, Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., and a host Black male leaders

    Monday, July 3     "Standing On Strong Ground," hosted by Reverend Andriette Earl      Opening Remarks by ESSENCE editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray 

Wealth and Winning Strategies with Mathew Knowles, NBA player Etan Thomas and others

Building Wealth with Earvin "Magic" Johnson

From Broke to Blessed: 7 Steps to Financial Freedom presented by economist and author Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Stand Up and Be Counted: Our Votes Matter! featuring Bruce Gordon president & CEO of NAACP

    Keynote address by  Michael Eric Dyson      Coming of Age in the Times of AIDS with Hydeia Broadbent 

ESSENCE magazine’s Take Back the Music campaign, which examines the ways in which Black women are depicted in popular music and videos, continues its mission during the festival, featuring Jill Scott

Who You Calling a Ho? Sisters Take Back Our Sex with panelists including author Toni Blackman, Common, actor Shemar Moore and former video vixen and author Karrine Steffans

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan will deliver a keynote address

In addition, throughout the Empowerment Seminar there will be remarks by Reverend Suzan Johnson Cook, Danny Glover, Terrance Howard, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Joseph T. Jones, Jr., Queen Latifah, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Reverend Al Sharpton and others.

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