Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.

The Big Finish: Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige closed out the 2011 Essence Music Festival at the Louisiana Superdome on July 3, 2011, in New Orleans.

Captions by The Root's editorial staff

Trey Songz Excites

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Trey Songz delighted the crowd at the Louisiana Superdome on July 3, 2011, in New Orleans.

New Edition, Reissued

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New Edition reunited at the Louisiana Superdome on July 3, 2011.

Funk Legend George Clinton

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Make our funk the p-funk! George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic performed at the Louisiana Superdome on July 3, 2011.

Kanye West Wows

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West headlined the 17th annual Essence Music Festival, his first performance there since 2008. Here he is at the Louisiana Superdome on July 2, 2011, in New Orleans.

Jill Scott's Surprise

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Scott surprised festivalgoers with a sassy new look and a surprise performance with Anthony Hamilton at the Louisiana Superdome on July 2.

Mary J. Blige and Don Pooh

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Singer-songwriter Blige posed with music executive Pooh at the Louisiana Superdome on July 2.

Chaka Khan Gets the Keys

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Not only did Khan perform at the Louisiana Superdome on July 2, but she also received the keys to the city.

Usher Takes Flight

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With his gravity-defying dance moves, Usher did not disappoint at the Louisiana Superdome on July 1. He said that to prepare for his performance in front of a largely female audience, he did a few extra crunches.

Jennifer Hudson Dazzles

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A very glamorous J-Hud also showed off her dance moves at the Louisiana Superdome on July 1.

Fantasia Barrino's Stand

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A barefoot Barrino gave it her all at the Louisiana Superdome on July 1.

Taraji P. Henson and Hosea Chanchez

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Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson and The Game’s Hosea Chanchez stopped for a photo at the Louisiana Superdome on July 1.

Boyz II Men's Return

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Ten years after their last performance at the Essence Music Festival, Boyz II Men rocked their classics at the Louisiana Superdome on July 1.

Macy Gray's Moment

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Gray captured the festival's spirit at the Louisiana Superdome on July 1.