If Carl Thomas wasn't regularly slated to perform at the Essence Music Festival, he'd probably be an avid attendee. After all, before anything, he's a fan of great music.

"I'm always looking forward to catching Mary J. Blige's show," he tells The BoomBox. "It's just a blessing to be there under one roof with so much talent and so much God-given inspiration and energy."

On July 8, the R&B crooner will be onstage in New Orleans, performing as part of the Essence Superlounge. He's committed to celebrating the fun of summer at the festival.

"[My performance] makes you feel that way no matter what time of year," says the Conquer creator. "When I'm performing, my set just kinda has that summertime appeal to it, even if we're performing in January. So it can't help but to be in line with the summer theme."

The Essence Music Festival concert series is especially intimate for loyal R&B fans who are never partial to radio singles and enjoy the album cuts from their favorite artists.

"If you're invited to perform at the Essence Festival, it usually means that the audience is in love with you as an artist and not just your catalog," he explains. "So the Essence Festival offers an opportunity for artists to somewhat deviate and step away from their catalog at times."

Although he hints at a few surprises during his set, Thomas will only confirm his plans of introducing new music to his audience.

"I will be giving them sneak peeks of things that are gonna be on future projects," he shares. "I think that's part of the live stage experience."

Trey Songz will be in attendance at the festival this year, however, Thomas says he's unsure the two will have an impromptu performance of their 2009 collaboration, "Feels So Good."

"So far I don't have any plans for anything like that," he says with a laugh. "But I'm a big fan of Trey. He's someone I've had the opportunity to watch grow from a kid to a grown man. And it's an honor to watch his artistry unfold. I'm just looking forward to watching everybody."

The Essence Music Festival runs July 5 - 8. For more information on the performance lineup, check out Essence's full rundown here.



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