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The Essence Festival is definitely on my “To Do” list. The line up has just been released. According to, The 2015 Essence Festival will feature Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, comedian Kevin Hart, Common, India.Arie and New Orleans’ own Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, among others, on its main stage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this summer. The 21st annual Essence is July 2-5.

Hart will headline the festival’s opening “Now Playing” concert, a sort of soft opening, on Thursday, July 2. The festival first presented a smaller Thursday night event, with reduced seating and only one stage, in 2014. Hart first performed on the main Essence stage in 2012.

Other 2015 acts revealed in what is described as the “first round” of talent revelations include homegrown rappers Mystikal and Dee-1, plus Kool Moe Dee, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Floetry, jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding, Kelly Price, Bilal, Nico & Vinz, Lianne La Havas, Elle Varner, SZA, Tonya Bond Cannon, Leon Bridges, Andra Day, Raheem DeVaughn, Mali Music, Eric Roberson, Teedra Moses, Avery*Sunshine, Kindred The Family Soul, Goapele, Robert Glasper, Tweet, Jeff Bradshaw and such local acts as Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and Tank & the Bangas.