What started as a long weekend of great music (and food) in New Orleans back in 1995, the ESSENCE Music Festival has evolved into the largest African-American cultural event of the summer, featuring the hottest chart-toppers year after year — from old school (Aretha Franklin is a headliner this year!) to new.

Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Prince, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, and Usher have all graced the New Orleans Superdome stage for the annual festival.

As we gear up for another great Fourth of July weekend, let’s take a look at the best moments of EMF over the years.

Loading the player...