Calling at R&B fans: if you're not at Essence Festival this weekend, then why not? Year on year the line-up gets better and better, and this year is no exception. Loads of acts are set to bring their talents to one of the six stages this weekend (4th - 7th July), including the unmatchable Beyoncé, the multi-platinum selling Keyshia Cole, hiphop star Trey Songz and loads of other important names of the genre.

Beyonce Knowles
Beyoncé Knowles Is Sure To Dazzle As She Headlines Essence Festival.

However, Thursday's grand opening of the 19th annual festival came with a sterner note from Mayor Mitch Landrieu who took to his own stage for a press conference to address to issue of gun violence and murdering in the world-famous Crescent City, as reported by Nola.com. Landrieu acknowledged that things had been going well for the city, with recent accolades such as 'the nation's laboratory for change and innovation,' and announced plans for a Sunday morning gathering for New Orleans' mothers who have lost their children to violence, saying "We understand that mothers who have loved and lost are critical in changing the culture of violence and in ending this unacceptable epidemic of young African-American men killing each other," giving early festival attendees for for thought as they prepared to begin their celebration of black musicians, performers and artists.

Continue reading: Essence Festival: The R&B Party Begins With Sombre Words From New Orleans' Mayor