Essence magazine’s annual music festival in New Orleans has expanded its concert and empowerment workshop schedule to include a live taping of “Family Feud” with host Steve Harvey and a block party hosted by Doug E. Fresh every day July 6-8 in Champion Square. This pre-show features surprise celebrity appearances, cool giveaways and DJs MCLyte and Spinderella playing hit records.

The concerts, featuring popular recording artists at the Superdome, begin Friday night, July 6, with D’Angelo, Charlie Wilson, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole and the Pointer Sisters performing on the main stage. Saturday night’s show features a hot lineup of female R&B stars, including Mary J. Blige, Ledisi and Mary Mary. In addition, Kevin Hart is set to deliver his own brand of self-deprecating humor. Closing out the weekend on Sunday is the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, R&B singer Fantasia and rousing gospel great Kirk Franklin.

The three days of free workshops and activities in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center begin on Friday under the theme “The Power of Our Family,” with a “Family Feud” taping and keynote address by Melissa Harris-Perry. Saturday’s schedule focuses on the power of the community and features a panel titled “2012 Election: What’s at Stake for You?” moderated by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien with Marc H. Morial, Karen Carter Peterson, Michael Baisden and Judy Jackson. Dr. Steve Perry gives a speech that addresses the topic “Taking Back Our Schools.”

Sunday’s program from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is an all-star gospel salute to Mary Mary and Fred Hammond. Among the gospel artists performing on Sunday at the convention center are Kim Burrell, Tramaine Hawkins, Israel Houghton and Yolanda Adams.

Keep in mind that for the price of the concert tickets at the Superdome, you can also visit the artists performing in the Superlounges each night in addition to the main stage headliners. On Friday night, Vivian Green, Kindred the Family Soul, Stephanie Mills and SWV are gracing the smaller stages, where most patrons stand to catch their favorite singers or groups. The following night, the Stylistics, Dru Hill and Big Sam’s Funky Nation share the limelight in the lounges. Finally, on Sunday, you can find Eve, Estelle, Melanie Fiona and Raheem DeVaughn, among other notables.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit