Essence Festival Unveils Nightly Schedule: Kevin Hart Opens, Kendrick Lamar Closes

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Kendrick Lamar performs at ONE MusicFest at Aaron's Amphitheatre on Sept. 13, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Beenie Man & the Zagga Zow Band join Missy Elliott, Usher, Charlie Wilson & more previously announced performers.

Kendrick Lamar will make his formal main-stage debut at the 2015 Essence Festival on July 5, while fellow first-timer Missy Elliott will take command the night before. Both artists are among the more than 40 acts that will perform across five stages during the four-day festival (July 2-5) at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Kendrick Lamar to Make Essence Festival Debut

Just added to the bill: Beenie Man and the Zagga Zow Band. Next week, the Essence Festival will announce the return of a festival fan favorite to close out its July 3 tribute to New Orleans. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Here’s the night-by-night lineup for the 2015 Essence Festival:

Thursday, July 2 – What Now? Tour featuring Kevin Hart. Other Mainstage performers: Trey Songz and Lecrae.

Friday, July 3 – Mainstage: Charlie Wilson, India.Arie, Kem, plus the soon-to-be announced return of a New Orleans fan favorite. Superlounges: Adrian Marcel, Avery*Sunshine, Doug E. Fresh, Goapele, Kelly Price, Kindred the Family Soul, Luenell, Nico & Vinz and Slick Rick.

Saturday, July 4 – Mainstage: Usher, Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu, Common, Beenie Man & The Zagga Zow Band. Superlounges: The Bangas, Bilal, Elle Varner, Esperanza Spalding Presents: Emily’s D+Evolution, Kool Moe Dee, Mali Music, Mystikal, Raheem DeVaughn, Sevyn Streeter, Tank and Tonya Boyd-Cannon.

Sunday, July 5 – Mainstage: Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Floetry. Superlounges: Andra Day, Dee-1, Dumpstaphunk, Eric Roberson, Jeff Bradshaw, Lianne La Havas, Mase, Robert Glasper, SZA, Teedra Moses and Tweet.

Nephew Tommy from the Steve Harvey Morning Show will return as the Mainstage host with Doug E. Fresh providing special DJ moments. Single-day tickets go on sale today (