Photo Gallery: 2012 Essence Music Festival
By: The Associated Press Published: July 6, 2012 08:56PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 09:07PM
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The OMG Girls perform at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, Thursday, July 5, 2012. This is the first day of the four day music festival. (Photo by Bill Haber/Invision/AP)

Photos from the 2012 Essence Music Festival at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on July 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

As in years past, the festival tackles themes of importance to African Americans, such as education and the coming presidential election. But above all, Essence is a celebration of music. Other veteran artists scheduled to perform include Ledisi, Fantasia, Chaka Khan, Trey Songz and D'Angelo, who last month gave his first live performance in the United States in 12 years at Bonnaroo.

Essence is one of the premiere music festivals celebrating black culture and music. It's been held every Independence Day weekend since its inception in 1995, when it marked the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine.