- Associated Press - Thursday, June 29, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - From its start in 1994, the Essence Festival has been billed as a “party with a purpose.” That continues 23 years later as it partners with rapper Master P’s Team Hope NOLA Foundation for a day of service in his hometown.

Volunteers helped revitalize the Guste Homes Senior Residences in New Orleans Thursday, with support from sponsor Walmart. Projects included painting as well as installation of computers, televisions and furniture in the residence’s media room.

Later Thursday, Master P will host the festival’s first-ever celebrity basketball game at Xavier University to raise funds for 10 student scholarships. Among those scheduled to appear are Romeo, Ray J, Trombone Shorty, Doug E. Fresh, Mystikal, actor Anthony Mackie and several former NBA players.

The activities were held a day before free festivities kick off at New Orleans’ convention center and nightly, ticketed concerts in the Superdome.

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