Usher, Jennifer Hudson, & Fantasia Kick Off ESSENCE Music Festival

Thousands of music fans packed the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Friday for the start of the 17th Annual ESSENCE Music Festival. The jam-packed lineup for Day 1 included Miguel, Tank, Charlie Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, and Usher.

“American Idol” alums Hudson and Fantasia shared the bill on the Main Stage. A glammed-up J-Hud delivered material from her latest album I Remember Me, while Tasia kicked off her shoes and took fans to church during her stirring set. ’90s groups Boyz II Men and Dru Hill resurfaced with nostalgic performances that appealed to older festivalgoers.

Headliner Usher closed out the day with his last big show of the year, tweeting, “To everybody that came to the show tonight…much love! I had an incredible time…as I told ya’ll last show this year on that level.”

LeToya Luckett soaked up the soulful sounds with fellow Houstonian Slim Thug and Mary J. Blige was honored for her philanthropic efforts at the 365 Black Awards.

Kanye West will headline tonight and Blige will round out the festival on Sunday.