Maxwell, Estelle Headline NW Arkansas 'Road to Essence' event

Grammy Award-winning artists Maxwell, Estelle, Trey Songz and Hezekiah Walker will headline The Road to Essence Festival, a free concert sponsored by Walmart.

The event starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 14 at Orchards Park in Bentonville. The park, which is east of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is located at the corner of John DeShields Boulevard and Northeast J Street.

Those traveling to Bentonville on Interstate 540 will want to use Exit 88, and go west on Central Avenue. Following the city's wayfinding signs that point drivers to the museum will lead them right to the Road to Essence site.

Walmart has sponsored Road to Essence events in other communities in previous years, including Memphis, Birmingham and Atlanta.

“Walmart is working hard to ensure that Northwest Arkansas is a great place to live and raise a family," siad Sharonda L. Britton, director of multicultural marketing at Walmart. "We are finding new ways to bring the kinds of entertainment and activities that we know our associates and their families want – right in their own backyard. By hosting the Road to Essence Festival to Northwest Arkansas, we are giving the community an opportunity to see a great show without having to make a special trip to a major city.”

R&B singer Maxwell won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 2010 for “Pretty Wings,” a tribute to Michael Jackson, and his work has received 11 Grammy nominations. Maxwell won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Male Artist that same year. His biggest hit was “Fortunate,” which was recognized as the Best R&B Single of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards in 1999.

The London-born Estelle released her debut album in 2004. In 2009, she won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for her song “American Boy.” The song was in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Walmart’s invitation to Hezekiah Walker, Maxwell, Trey Songz and Estelle to perform at The Road to Essence in Bentonville is an important step toward accomplishing a key achievement - promoting racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity in Northwest Arkansas and supporting quality–of-life enhancements by developing events that appeal to a variety of demographic groups,” said Kim Davis, who heads diversity programs for the Northwest Arkansas Council.

The Road to Essence series is intended to build excitement in the weeks leading up to the annual Essence Music Festival event from July 4 through July 7 in New Orleans. This year’s festival is expected to draw more than 400,000 visitors and Walmart is a proud sponsor.