Dr. Juanita Bynum served as spiritual leader for the festival’s Afternoon of Praise, Worship and Inspiration, and is ready to enjoy the show later that evening.
Keyshia Cole struts her way to the Superdome stage.
Community leaders and old friends Cornel West and Tavis Smiley greet each other between seminars.
Malaak Compton-Rock brought the family dog along while backstage supporting husband Chris Rock.
Essence Music Festival favorite Mary J. Blige shows her appreciation to loyal fans.
London singer Estelle finds herself right at home backstage at the festival.
Crooners Avant, left, and Raphael Saadiq catch up with former “Soul Food” star Darrin Henson during the festivities.
Gospel duo Mary Mary enter the Superdome all smiles and ready to rock the mic.
Solange Knowles hangs with dad and manager Mathew Knowles.
Singer Regina Belle added worship and inspiration to the festival, serving as a seminar spiritual leader.
Songstress Chrisette Michele and renowned music producer Bryan Michael Cox work the red carpet backstage.
Keyshia Cole cuddles with her canine companion.
Funnyman Chris Rock and wife Malaak embrace after his stand-up performance.
Gospel artist Tye Tribbett offers peace before raising the roof with his choir, Greater Anointing.
Frankie Beverly rides to the main stage to close out the 2008 Essence Music Festival in style.