Usher closed out the first day of the Essence Music Festival Friday (July 1), with a rousing two hour performance in which he paid homage to the late Michael Jackson.

Shocking the audience with his entrance, the Grammy winner emerged from a platform in the middle of the New Orleans Superdome high above the crowd, before breaking into his set. "Welcome to the first day of the Essence Music Festival," he said in between crowd cheers. "Are you guys having a good time?" From there he launched into a timeline of hits including 'You Make Me Wanna,' 'Bad Girl, 'Nice & Slow' and 'Lil Freak.'

Amidst four costume changes, and nearing the end of his show, Usher honored the two year anniversary of Jackson's death. "Six days ago marks the death of Michael Jackson," he said. "I'd like to pay tribute to him, is that all right with you guys?" He asked before breaking into a dance sequence to the King of Pop's hits 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough,' 'Rock With You' and 'Billy Jean,' while trying his hand at mimicking Jackson's moonwalk. Usher closed the show with one last costume change before his hit single 'OMG.'

The Essence Music Festival continues through July 3, with performances from Mary J. Blige, Kanye West and Naughty By Nature.

The Essence Musical Festival will be held through July 3. For more information, visit www.essence.com.

Watch Usher's 'DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love' Feat. Pitbull






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