The Essence Festival has taken place every Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans since 1995. It now attracts hundreds of thousands to the air-conditioned Superdome for four days of R&B and gospel performances and panels on politics, financial planning and parenting. It's become an annual must for African-Americans across the U.S., and it's often the place former superstars begin comebacks. It was dreamed up by Jazzfest and Newport Festival producer George Wein.
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