Essence Music Festival in Houston

The Essence Music Festival is in Houston this year. It's traditionally held in New Orleans but after 11 years and after Hurricane Katrina, that was not possible. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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Essence Music Festival is the country's largest annual gathering of African Americans to celebrate Black music. Its home has always been in New Orleans. ESSENCE magazine President Michelle Ebanks...

"Like yours our hearts were broken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But like you we redoubled our efforts. We knew our mission to strengthen the lives of African-Americans was more important than ever before."

And thus the party with a purpose has moved to Houston this year. ESSENCE Editorial Director Susan Taylor announced the launch of "Essence Cares! A Call to Action to Secure our Youth."

"What we are asking is for every able, stable person to have his or her hand on a young, vulnerable, underserved person's shoulder. That costs no money. That's all we're saying. Put your hand on the shoulder of a young person who may be losing his or her way and see them through. Be a listening ear, be a voice of wisdom, be supportive."

The Essence Cares! effort is in partnership with a number of groups including The Children's Defense Fund, the N-double-A-C-P, the National Urban League and Operation Hope to name a few. Many elected officials welcomed the Essence Music Festival including Mayor Bill White.

"And on this weekend the cadence of life in Houston, Texas will have a new rhythm to it."

White says Houston is proud to host the festival that begins tomorrow at Reliant Park and runs through Monday. He acknowledged the reason the festival moved to Houston.

"There was a lot of pain, there was a lot of tragedy, there was a lot of lessons learned about America too, some good, some not so good. But one thing we learned in this community is the gift of giving."

White expressed his support for programs that can empower people. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee...

"It is because of the tragedy that managed to overcome you that we now are the beneficiaries of this great and wonderful conference. But we will not take the misery that you experienced and not invest in you and invest in your causes."

The Essence Music Festival began in 1995 to celebrate the anniversary of ESSENCE magazine. The even includes Empowerment Seminars at Reliant Center which are free to the public. Reliant Center will also host the Essence Marketplace where artists from across the country will showcase their work. Reliant Stadium will feature three stages for the nightly musical entertainment. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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