Essence Fest 2018 has added some rap royalty to their lineup.

Queen Latifah, superstar rapper, actress and producer will be hitting the stage this summer at Essence Fest in New Orleans, joining other headliners Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu among others.

“Commemorating three decades in the entertainment business, the Golden Globe, Emmy, Grammy and SAG Award recipient will be performing alongside Mary J. Blige and Xscape during the Festival’s second evening on Saturday, July 7 in the Louisiana Superdome,” says a press release announcing Latifah’s performance.

Queen Latifah

Latifah, 48, who first broke onto the music scene in the late 80s with her debut album All Hail the Queen is expected to perform hits like “U.N.I.T.Y.” and “Ladies First”.

The event will mark one of the first public appearances for Queen Latifah, since she shared the news in March that her mother Rita Owens died from complications of a heart condition.

RELATED: Queen Latifah Says Being Her Mom’s Caregiver Highlights Why ‘Family Is the Most Important Thing’

“Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldy but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life,” she wrote in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE in March.

Queen Latifah with mom Rita Owens

“I am heartbroken but know she is at peace,” she said, signing it “Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latif?ah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”

Essence Fest also finds the star back at the scene of her hit 2017 film Girls Trip, based on a group of college pals played by Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish, who head out to Essence Fest for some overdue, and hilarious bonding.

RELATED VIDEO: Girls Trip’s Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith Dish on Their 30-Year Friendship

Sitting down with PEOPLE last July, Pinkett Smith, Latifah’s real-life pal, recalled meeting the star as a teenager during the beginning of her rap career.

“It was in Baltimore at a club where she was performing. I’d never seen anyone like her before, this female rapper named Queen Latifah. I convinced the promoter to let me introduce her,” recalled Pinkett Smith of the first encounter.

RELATED: Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith Look Back on How Will Smith Changed Both Their Lives

Added Latifah, “My mother was with me. That’s how young I was. I was 17.” Pinkett Smith, at the time was even younger, and admitted, “I had no business being in that club!”

The 2018 Essence Festival takes place Thursday July 5 to Sunday July 8 in New Orleans. For ticket information visit

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