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via BCNN1:

The Essence Festival, which draws thousands to New Orleans during the fourth of July week, is celebrating 25 years of bringing African American women of all ages together for thought-provoking conversation and performances from top musical acts.

Launched to mark the 25th anniversary of black-owned Essence magazine, the festival has become a yearly celebration to highlight excellence in business, fashion, entertainment, and, of course, music.


Before the thousands of festival-goers head home Sunday, many of them gather at the convention center for a gospel service to connect spiritually.

McClurkin, a pastor and singer, has performed and hosted the service multiple times and says he’s looking forward to this year’s event.

“It’s really devoted to us as African Americans, not just women, but to the black experience,” McClurkin said. “At this point, it’s got to be one of most sought after tickets in the world.”

The “We Fall Down” singer said he’s awed by the festival’s “diversity and appreciation for ethnic accomplishment” and that the event is also a platform for gospel performers.

“It exposes us to people who may not have known us before and gives us an opportunity to minister to people from all walks of life,” McClurkin said. “A major part of the festival is set aside for a Sunday morning service and people make their way to it whether they’re there to see a Janet Jackson or a Beyonce, they’re crammed into that hall to serve God.”

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