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Aretha Franklin Headlines Last Day of Essence Music Festival 2012

July 9, 2012 (7:01 am) GMT
The Queen of Soul sings 'I Will Always Love You' in memory of Whitney Houston during the closing day of this year's Essence Music Festival.

Sunday, July 8, marked the last night of the Essence Music Festval for this year. The main stage had some heavy hitting performers including . In addition to helping close the music festivity, the soul icon was given "The Power Award" during her performance.

The Queen of Soul stepped onto the stage after the opening performances by and . The highlight of Aretha's performance was her tribute to the late . The legendary singer sang "I Will Always Love You" as she played the piano.

After her performance, R&B divas took the stage to perform tributes to some dearly departed icons. Syleena Johnson performed "At Last" for , KeKe Wyatt sang "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" for Whitney, and performed "Reach and Touch Somebody's Hand" for Nick Ashford. The tributes were followed by a performance from to cap off the festival.

The festival started last Thursday with "New & Next". It's a show dedicated to up-and-coming talents like , son of Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, , a new hip-hop group made up of three girls in their teens, and Katlyn Nichol, a 14-year-old whose star is on the rise after catching the attention of her idol, .

The four-day festival included live performances by Mary J., , and as well. Other famous artists scattered throughout the different stages of the festival were the likes of , , Doug E. Fresh, and 's Spinderella.

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