Youth to reign at 2012 Essence Fest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The next generation moves to the forefront at this year's Essence Music Festival, which expands to four days of concerts and sets aside a day of activities geared toward emerging talent.

The festival's kickoff will include performances by rising stars Diggy Simmons, the OMG Girlz and New Orleans' own Roots of Music on the New & Next Stage next to the Superdome.

The up-and-comers will perform July 5.

The festival, which ends July 8, has been held every Independence Day weekend since its inception in 1995, when it marked the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine.

Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks says expansion to a young-people-focused fourth day underscores the festival's goal of giving new talent a springboard.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)