The Essence Festival announced its first round of 2015 talent Wednesday. The musical component of the 21st Essence Festival, taking place July 2-5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, will include rap star Kendrick Lamar, in his Essence debut, and returning Essence favorite Mary J. Blige.
Other artists will include rapper-actor Common, whose collaboration with singer John Legend, “Glory,” a song featured in the film “Selma,” is nominated for an Academy Award.
Also confirmed for the festival’s nighttime Superdome concerts are Erykah Badu, one of last year’s main stage performers; India.Arie; young jazz star Esperanza Spalding; New Orleans talent Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk; reunited British duo Floetry (Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart); Kelly Price; Lianne La Havas; Elle Varner; Raheem DeVaughn, Mali Music, Eric Roberson, Teedra Moses; Bilal; Goapele; Robert Glasper; Kool Moe Dee; Doug E. Fresh; Mystikal; Slick Rick; Nico &Vinz; SZA; Dee-1; Tonya Bond Cannon; Leon Bridges; Andra Day; Kindred the Family Soul; Tweet; Jeff Bradshaw; and New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas.
More artists will be announced later.
Comedians Nephew Tommy from “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” and Luenell will play hosts. Also this year, actor-comic Kevin Hart will headline the festival’s “Now Playing” concert on July 2.
The festival celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014 with dozens of performers, including Prince, Janelle Monáe, Nile Rodgers, Charlie Wilson and Lionel Richie.
“On the heels of Essence’s epic 20th anniversary celebration in 2014, we’re delighted to announce a selection of the best artists and biggest names in entertainment who will take the stage at the Superdome this summer,” said Michelle Ebanks, Essence president.
“From first-time festival performer Kendrick Lamar to return appearances from fan favorites like Kevin Hart, Common and Mary J. Blige, the Essence Festival offers the definitive entertainment and cultural experience for our passionate Essence community every Fourth of July weekend.”