Verizon Supports African-American Music, Art, Heritage and Culture as Sponsor of 'Party with a Purpose'

HOUSTON -Verizon Wireless and Verizon Communications are sponsoring the 2006 ESSENCE Music Festival (EMF), the biggest annual African-American celebration in the country, and have been named the Official Communications Company. The festival will be held July 1-3 at Reliant Park here.

Known as "the party with a purpose," the EMF hosts educational seminars during the day and entertainment events such as concerts and comedy shows at night.

"ESSENCE is very proud to have Verizon as a major sponsor of the Essence Music Festival," said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc. "Verizon is known internationally as one of the largest providers of wired, wireless and broadband communications, and has a proven track record of good corporate citizenship and diversity. It is a perfect fit to have them as a sponsor of the nation's largest annual African-American event and gathering of musical talent in the world."

This is the first year that Verizon Wireless and Verizon Communications will serve as the Official Communications Company of the EMF. As part of the festival sponsorship, Verizon Wireless and Verizon Communications will host free technology sessions that will provide useful information about Internet as well as wireless applications and features. Additionally, participants will get the chance to learn more about the various products and services offered by Verizon, including advanced wireless devices; iobi, a communications management tool; and Verizon's various voice and broadband packages.

Also, Verizon Wireless has created customized text programs that enable customers to download EMF artists' ring-back tones and meet other attendees with common interests via Essence Music Festival short codes.

Participants have the chance to win ticket upgrades and meet some of the artists performing at the festival. Verizon Wireless and Verizon Communications will also host karaoke and dancing contests and other entertaining activities for attendees.

"Verizon has been a strong supporter of the African-American community, including our support of technology, entertainment and cultural events, and we take pride in providing products and services that help our customers realize their passions," said Sheryl Sellaway, executive director public relations for Verizon Wireless. "Verizon's support of the ESSENCE Music Festival reflects our belief in the vitality of the African-American community and gives us the opportunity to serve a greater purpose by providing useful technological advice to festival participants."

In its 12th year, the EMF is the nation's largest gathering of musicians and other talent. It combines daily educational seminars, motivational speakers, nightly parties and concerts featuring some of the hottest stars in the entertainment industry. Mary J. Blige, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chris Brown, Jaheim, Cedric the Entertainer and other talent will perform at this year's festival, which is expected to attract approximately 300,000 attendees from across the country.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 53 million customers nationwide. Verizon Business operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks. Verizon Telecom is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 250,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.