Essence Festivals, LLC., officials announced today that hip hop veteran LL Cool J, comedian/actor Cedric "The Entertainer" and R&B legend Maze featuring Frankie Beverly will join previously announced Queen Of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige, at the 2006 Essence Music Festival, July 1, 2 and 3. The Festival will take place in its new interim home, state-of-the-art Reliant Park in Houston, Texas -- a city with a dynamic melting pot of cultures and a venue for world-class shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Essence will continue to work closely with city and state officials to help rebuild the city of New Orleans and its educational system.

Additional artists will be announced in coming weeks.

The Essence Music Festival, known as "the party with a purpose," is the nation's largest annual African-American event and gathering of musical talent in the world. The Festival has become a destination of choice for families and friends as they schedule their reunions. This multigenerational Festival offers free Empowerment Seminars during the day and exciting performances at night, where Festivalgoers can dance and sing along with the biggest names in entertainment-rhythm and blues, classic soul, hip-hop, neo-soul and jazz.

Tickets are on sale at, (800) 488-5252 or (713) 629-3700 in Houston. Tickets are $45, $56, $67, $72, $83, $110 and a very limited number in the Gold Circle section at $165. All tickets are subject to additional service charges. For hotel accommodations call (888) 508-5731. For more information, see the March 2006 issue of Essence or log on to