ESSENCE Music Festival headliner Chaka Khan helped ESSENCE kick off the long-awaited weekend by speaking at a press conference alongside New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Constance C.R. White, and ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks.

Not only was Chaka here to celebrate the start of EMF, but she was also honored for launching a year-long initiative to help 50 women in New Orleans who have struggled with hardships such as HIV, homelessness, domestic violence and child abuse. Mayor Landrieu presented the songstress with the keys to the city.

It’s going to be an exciting weekend! Head over to the ESSENCE Music Festival website for more on what’s going down here in NOLA!