15 Reasons Why We're Looking Forward to Summer

We're gearing up for what will undoubtedly be a hot and steamy summer. Besides hitting the road to New Orleans for the 19th annual ESSENCE Fest headlined by Beyonce, Jill Scott and more, we're ready for a season filled with the best tours, albums and movies. From Mrs. Carter to Mr. Idris Elba, here are 15 reasons this season will not disappoint.

ESSENCE.COM May, 24, 2013

1 of 15 Beyonce/ Tumblr

Who runs the summer of 2013? Most likely Mrs. Carter. The queen of the charts returns stateside (she's kicked off her tour in Europe) with the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour (June 28-August 5) and a headlining stop at the ESSENCE Fest on Sunday, July 7. She also returns to the charts with her fifth studio album, although no release date has been announced.

2 of 15 Kevork Djansezian/ Getty

They're calling themselves "Legends of the Summer" and who can really dispute that Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake's tour won't be all everyone's talking about this season. Their month-long tour kicks off July 17 in a city near you.

3 of 15 Ben Pruchnie/WireImage

Will and Jaden Smith have been on quite the whirlwind world tour promoting After Earth (out June 7), their first foray into sci-fi as father and son.

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The lineup for this two-day Jay-Z-curated festival on Labor Day weekend is surely one of the best ways to close out the summer. We're talking Beyonce, Solange, Miguel and Kendrick Lamar. Not to mention it's in the city of Brotherly Love.

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My, my, my have we missed Maxwell! The dapper singer returns to the ESSENCE Fest on Friday, July 5 and we can only hope he'll be performing new tracks from Summers, his forthcoming studio album, which is slated for a summer release.

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Four years can seem like an eternity when waiting for new music, but India.Arie’s new album Songversation (out June 25) is well worth the wait. She’s happy and loved and every song, including the lead single “Cocoa Butter,” is a testament to her new peace. We’re already calling her slick, party-starter “Just Do You” our summer anthem.

7 of 15 Roberta Magrini PR

Chrisette Michele returns with her fourth studio album Better (June 11). Expect a lot more edginess from the neo-soul darling who's all grown up. You can also catch her at the ESSENCE Fest

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Tell us you don't love a man in a supehero uniform. Idris Elba playes Stacker Pentecost in this buzzed-about sci-fi thriller slated for a July 12 release.

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Come for a taste of futuristic R&B on John Legend's long-awaited fourth album Love in the Future (out June 25) as he reunites with collaborator Kanye West, who produced his first album Get Lifted back in 2004.

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If Kelly Ro's current single "Kisses Down Low" is any indication, her second solo album Talk a Good Game will carry on with her current "sexy and I know it" vibe.

11 of 15 Yosra El-Essawy

Just imagine being Beyoncé's opening act, performing at the ESSENCE Festival (on Sunday, July 7), all before releasing your debut album. The New Orleans native is finally ready to give his fans a concise taste of what he's about on his debut album, Made to Love (out July 18).

12 of 15 Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

The dancing songstress returns with Ciara, on July 9.

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Jamie Foxx is commander-in-chief in this action-packed thriller about an attack on the White House (out on June 28).

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Mr. West is squeezing in some summer performances before taking on daddy duties later this year. He, along with Nas, Erykah Badu and more, take over New York Randall's Island for one of the summer's most eclectic music festivals

15 of 15 Maury Phillips/WireImage

We're certain she's tired of being asked "Ashanti, where've you been?" The early-aughts R&B darling returns with a new album, Braveheart, on June 4, and a hot new video for her first single 'Never Should Have.'