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Music Mogul and Pop Culture Icon Diddy to Host Diddy and Friends at The Coca-Cola Presents The ESSENCE Music Festival

Also Performing at the Festival New Edition, Bobby Brown, Jaheim and Chris Brown

Plus 'Now or Never! The ESSENCE Call to Action to Secure our Children' Initiative Empowerment Seminars Featuring Magic Johnson, Jamie Foxx and Shemar Moore

A Bigger Party and a Deeper Purpose!

July 1, 2 and 3 in Houston, Texas

NEW YORK, March 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Essence Festivals, LLC., announced today that music mogul and pop culture icon Diddy will host Diddy and Friends at the Coca-Cola Presents the 2006 Essence Music Festival. New Edition and Bobby Brown (featuring a rare reunion performance), Jaheim and Chris Brown will also perform at the Festival along with previously announced artists Yolanda Adams, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Cedric "The Entertainer," Keyshia Cole, Earth Wind & Fire, Steve Harvey, LL Cool J, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Mo'Nique and Charlie Wilson. This year's awe-inspiring celebration, set for July 1, 2, and 3 in Houston, Texas, will be a "bigger party with a deeper purpose."

The theme for the Empowerment Seminars will be "Now or Never! The ESSENCE Call To Action To Secure Our Children," and will feature Magic Johnson, Jamie Foxx and Shemar Moore.

The night-by-night main stage schedule of performances is as follows:

Mary J. Blige
Earth, Wind & Fire
LL Cool J
Yolanda Adams

Diddy and Friends
New Edition
Bobby Brown
Steve Harvey
Chris Brown

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Toni Braxton
Cedric the Entertainer
Charlie Wilson
Keyshia Cole

Lounge artists will be announced in upcoming weeks.

"Now or Never! The ESSENCE Call to Action to Secure Our Children" initiative is designed to help rescue vulnerable youth and restore the lives of Hurricane Katrina survivors, while addressing critical issues facing Black America. From poverty and unemployment to the culture of violence, unequal educational systems and the ongoing affects of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina -- all represent a cry for help that can no longer be ignored. Magic Johnson, Jamie Foxx and Shemar Moore are joining forces with ESSENCE to challenge Festivalgoers to come, listen, learn and choose their method of support from reliable national organizations, including the NAACP and the National Urban League. Seminar attendees will also hear from other celebrities, activists, scholars, politicians, business and spiritual leaders who will work with the "Now or Never!" initiative, and make a commitment to take a united stand.

The Essence Marketplace will showcase artists from throughout the country who offer an array of quality arts and crafts that reflect Black culture. The marketplace will also include sponsor activities, celebrity meet-and-greets, Festival souvenirs and a book fair with author book signings.

The Festival, set for July 1, 2 and 3, 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.

The Coca-Cola Presents the Essence Music Festival, known as "the party with a purpose," is the nation's largest annual African-American event and the largest 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 inspirational and interactive Empowerment Seminars during the day and exciting performances at night, where Festivalgoers can dance and sing along with the biggest names in entertainment -- R&B, classic soul, hip-hop, neo-soul and jazz.

Tickets are on sale at ticketmaster.com, (800) 488-5252 or (713) 629-3700 in Houston. Tickets are $45, $56, $67, $72, $83, and $110. All tickets are subject to additional service charges. For hotel accommodations, call (888) 508-5731. For more information, see the May 2006 issue of ESSENCE or log on to essence.com.

The Coca-Cola Company is the Festival's presenting sponsor for the ninth consecutive year. The Coca-Cola Presents the 2006 Essence Music Festival's major sponsors are Budweiser, Kraft Foods, Chevrolet, McDonald's and Verizon Communications. In addition, Level Vodka, Southwest, U.S. Army and Wells Fargo will serve as official sponsors for the Festival. Additional sponsors will be announced at a later date.

The Coca-Cola Presents the 2006 Essence Music Festival is produced by Essence Festivals, LLC., in association with Festival Productions of New Orleans. Essence Festivals, LLC., is a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI). ECI is also the publisher of ESSENCE magazine. ESSENCE, after 35 years, continues to be the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women.

Source: Essence Festivals, LLC.

CONTACT: Rhonda Evans, +1-212-522-0870, revans@essence.com, or Sheila
Harris, +1-212-522-1089, sharris@essence.com, both of ESSENCE

Web site: http://www.essence.com/

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