- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Nearly half a million people attended this year’s Essence Festival held in New Orleans over the Fourth of July weekend.

That’s about 50,000 less than last year when participants marked the festival’s 20th anniversary with performances by Prince, Lionel Richie, Charlie Wilson, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae and Mary J. Blige.

Organizers say this year’s festival lineup included Kevin Hart, Usher and rappers Missy Elliott, Common and Kendrick Lamar for ticketed performances inside the Superdome while more than 120 speakers, including Deepak Chopra (CHO-pruh), Iyanla Vanzant and the Rev. Al Sharpton counseled those attending the free daytime experience inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

In addition, for the first time this year, the festival touched thousands of fans around the world via 100 hours of produced live-stream content.

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