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If there is any proof that one should never judge a book by its cover, the annual Essence Music Festival in New Orleans is it.

Put on by the premier publication for black women, the Essence Music Festival may seem like an exclusionary event for black females, but it’s far beyond it. For those who like music, in all its forms, the Essence Music Festival is one of the best music festvials in the world and from Janet Jackson’s super-charged ‘comeback’ performance on the main stage of the Superdome to shows by Arrested Development in one of the performance lounges, the first day of Essence Music Festival offered a little something for everyone.

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Those who made it inside the Superdome were treated to a top-notch lineup for the festival’s first night. As main stage performers Raphael Saadiq and Charlie Wilson offered up their own heavy doses or classic R&B and contemporary soul music, the super lounges were filled to the brim with an eclectic lineup of performers. Singer Chrisette Michele held court in the ‘My Black Is Beautiful’ lounge, while gospel fans were treated to two performances by Mary Mary in the Coca-Cola lounge. Jazz lovers were able to get their fill with a performance by legendary New Orleans jazz trumpter Irvin Mayfield and his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Meanwhile, in the McDonald’s super lounge, nostalgia was the theme of the night, as early 90’s rap/jazz/funk outfit Arrested Development performed both their early hits and selections from their new album, ‘Strong’. 

But the night belonged to the show’s headliner, Janet Jackson who performed for the crowd like she was back on one of her legendary tours. Check out some of the amazing photos from Janet Jackson’s performance as well as some shots ofl the celebrities who watched from backstage in the Belve Music Lounge.

NEXT PAGE: MORE PICTURES OF JANET PERFORMING

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MORE PICS OF JANET AT ESSENCE.COM

NEXT PAGE: TYLER PERRY, NIECY NASH, KORIS BUDJOE BACKSTAGE AT THE BELVE MUSIC LOUNGE

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