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Beyonce was announced Tuesday as the first artist confirmed for next year’s Essence Music Festival, which returns to New Orleans July 3, 4 and 5, 2009.        

       Dr. Juanita Bynum and Roland Martin will host seminars, and an all-star tribute will take place for Bishop T.D. Jakes, the magazine revealed. As in past years, musical performances are slated for the New Orleans Superdome and empowerment seminars are set to take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.


       In celebration of the event’s 15th anniversary, organizers will offer a 15% discount on select tickets from December 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009. 


       “As we plan the Essence Music Festival’s 15th anniversary in New Orleans next July, we are looking to create an environment that celebrates our history and looks to our future,” said Michelle Ebanks, president, Essence Communications Inc.  “We invite everyone to join us as we mark this milestone occasion with friends old and new.”      

       General admission daily tickets are available for $51, $67 or $79; floor seats are $92 and $121; Gold Circle tickets are $173; all plus applicable service charges.  Note: the 15% discount only applies when tickets are purchased for all three days and does not apply to floor or Gold Circle tickets.  To purchase tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-277-1700.


       For additional information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the Essence Music Festival, visit www.essencemusicfestival.com 


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