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Gospel Artists Honor Mary Mary and Fred Hammond at the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival

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Gospel's finest gathered in New Orleans to honor Mary Mary and Fred Hammond during the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival

The all-star salute, featuring appearances by Yolanda Adams, Tramaine Hawkins, Maurette Brown Clark, Pastor Marvin L. Winans, and more, ended the three-day annual ESSENCE Empowerment Experience on an uplifting note.  Tina Campbell of Mary Mary, who performed with her sister on the Mainstage during night two of the festival, was in tears following the heartfelt tribute.

"I don't even know what to say, but my God, my God, my God," said Tina. "Much of our preparation for the ESSENCE Festival had been for our performance because there is a lot of rehearsing and putting things in order for our team.  I think I hadn't really fully realized until we got here that we were being honored.  When I was in the moment [during the tribute] I couldn't do anything but cry and say, 'Thank you, God.' How amazing to experience this after 12 years. I don't know what to say but I'm so thankful."

Vocal powerhouse Kim Burrell, who has been close friends with the Campbell sisters for over 15 years, took the stage to sing some of her favorite Mary Mary hits including "Thank You," "Seattle," and "I Worship You."

"It feels good to be on the ESSENCE stage to celebrate two of the most incredible women that I know. It means the world to me," said Burrell.  "Mary Mary sang background on my very first album and we've been friends for many, many years. Even being in the music industry, nothing has ever changed between us.  We're closer now than when we started."

Not only were the honorees touched by the soul-stirring performances, but audience members stood on their feet and waved their hands, transforming the convention center hall into a sanctuary of praise and worship. It was a moving experience for all in attendance as festival-goers embraced the power of God through the sermons and performances.

Here's a look at how ESSENCE and gospel's all-stars celebrated Mary Mary and Fred Hammond.
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