Essence Festival Returns To New Orleans
July 6, 2007 at 5:44 AM (PT)
A NEW ORLEANS brass band led a procession of feathered dancers through the ERNEST N. MORIAL Convention Center, kicking off the three-day ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL on THURSDAY. "The party has officially started," said ESSENCE Pres. MICHELLE EBANKS.
Fans and performers said the return of the festival to NEW ORLEANS for the first time since HURRICANE KATRINA is cause for celebration. It's "a homecoming, a reunion," said LIONEL RICHIE, who performed at the festival in 2005, just weeks before KATRINA struck the GULF COAST on AUGUST 29, 2005, flooding 80% of NEW ORLEANS.
The festival, which runs through SATURDAY, had been held in NEW ORLEANS over the FOURTH OF JULY weekend since its launch in 1995. Last year it was moved to TEXAS because of KATRINA.