Riding on the theme "The Power of Our Voice," the festival kicks off with special awards: Aretha Franklin will receive the Festival's first ever Power Awards, in honor of this year's theme; McDonald's will give its 360 Black Awards to Chaka Khan, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Grant Hill and teen inventor Tony Hasberry II at the Mahalia Jackson theater; and Beverly Bond will present the My Black Is Beautiful and UNCF will present its scholarship to a winner at the MYBIB booth. Comedy returns to the festival in the form of current "it" comic, Kevin Hart, who will perform at the superdome (he's celebrating his birthday party tonight, Friday, the 6th, sponsored by Hennessy at the Saint Hotel on Canal street).
In between concerts and private parties, every brand that has ever touched the lives of African American women and men will be on hand to show you a good time. Here's our quick guide to the best things to check out for this weekend.