June 19, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Dozens of artists will gather in New Orleans July 3-5 for the 15th annual Essence Music Festival. Can’t wait? Check out our playlist of songs (available on iTunes) from this year’s lineup.

Ne-Yo ”So You Can Cry”
Go ahead and try to resist this witty ballad’s soaring hook. You’ll be nodding along whether you like it or not.

Maze feat. Frankie Beverly ”Happy Feelin’s”
Make sure you’re in the right mood with this aptly titled quiet-storm hit.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings ”This Land Is Your Land”
Prepare to gather with your fellow funk lovers by spinning this wickedly danceable cover of Woody Guthrie’s anthem.

John Legend ”Everybody Knows”
Ease things down for a bit with Legend’s classy kiss-off to an ex.

Al Green ”How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”
Keep that slow-jam groove going with Rev. Al’s masterful Bee Gees cover.

Raphael Saadiq ”Oh Girl”
Listening to Saadiq’s expertly retro croon, you’ll have no idea you’re hearing one of the newest songs on this playlist.

En Vogue ”My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)”
Time to start bringing the tempos back up. This James Brown-sampling smash should do the trick.

Anita Baker ”Sweet Love”
The soulful Midwesterner’s breakout hit builds gradually to an exuberant burst of horns…

Beyoncé ”Crazy in Love”
…which makes for the perfect segue to Beyoncé’s brass-laced floor filler.

Maxwell ”Pretty Wings”
Close out the set gently with a few minutes of lonesome falsetto from the recently returned neo-soul star.

You May Like