*More free entertainment has been added to the 18th annual Essence Music Festival.

For the first time ever, the event will include a daily pre-show to the nightly concerts featuring some of music’s preeminent artists.  Old school rap star Doug E. Fresh will kick off the nightly concerts with the Essence Music Festival Block Party in Champions Square July 6-8 from 3-6pm.

In addition to featuring Doug E. Fresh each day, the pre-shows will include such talent as MC Lyte and DJ Spinderella.  Local acts such as Kourtney Heart, Dee I, and F. Stokes are also scheduled to perform.

The block party, sponsored by Verizon Wireless, is free and open to the public.

For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news, visit www.essencemusicfestival.com.  Follow the event on Twitter @essencemusic #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2012 Essence Music Festival on Facebook.