Mary J Blige, LL Cool J and Toni Braxton are among the first stars stepping up to headline this year's (06) Essence Music Fest.

The festival is relocating to Houston, Texas because of Hurricane Katrina damage last summer (05) in its usual host city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The concerts will be held 1-3 July (06) in Houston's Reliant Park.

MAZE featuring FRANKIE BEVERLY and comedians Cedric The Entertainer and Mo'nique round out the current line-up.