Essence Festival marks its 20 year anniversary

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — It's been 20 years since Essence magazine first brought its "party with a purpose" to New Orleans and organizers say this year's goal is more, more, more.

Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc., said the team began planning the 20th celebration of black culture and R&B music 14 months ago. Ebanks says their goal was to make the experience bigger and better than ever.

She says more than 80 artists and 150 speakers are scheduled to entertain, inform and empower attendees.

The festival kicks off Thursday with Family Day in Woldenberg Park, held along the banks of the Mississippi River. Later, rapper Nas and R&B heartthrob Trey Songz will take the "Now Playing" stage inside the Superdome.

Prince, who headlined the festival's 10th anniversary, returns 10 years later.

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