Mary J. Blige will headline the Esssence Music Festival, set for July 2-4 in New Orleans.  Blige released her latest album, “Stronger with Each Tear” in December.” Usually a lock to come in at No. 1, Blige was blocked out of the top spot by Susan Boyle.

In addition to performing for the eighth time at the festival, Blige will serve as the official spokesperson for the event, which features music as well as panels with influential speakers, artists, authors and African American leaders.

Other performers will be announced soon. Weekend packages for the event are on sale now at essence.com.