The ESSENCE Festival is the nation's largest annual gathering of African-American musical talent featuring an unprecedented weekend of cultural celebrations, ESSENCE Empowerment Seminars and nightly musical performances. The Festival has featured some of the biggest names in entertainment including Prince, Beyonce, Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, Lionel Richie and more! Birthed in New Orleans in 1995, the ESSENCE Festival is held every Fourth of July weekend, bringing more than 400,000 attendees to the Crescent City and adding more than $1 billion to Louisiana's local economy. In 2007, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made special appearances at the ESSENCE Festival. In 2008, CNN reported live on-site throughout the weekend; partnering with ESSENCE to develop and tape a co-branded special presentation "Black America: Reclaiming the Dream."