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BET Experience 2015: Festival to kick off with free concert

BET Experience 2015: Jordin Sparks, Deborah Cox to play free outdoor concert Saturday

Before Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Miguel and the Roots headline the 2015 BET Experience at L.A. Live next week, the network will kick things off with a free concert.

Former “American Idol” champ Jordin Sparks, soul singer Chrisette Michele and R&B-dance diva Deborah Cox will headline the outdoor concert at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on Saturday.

The free concert will also feature giveaways and chances to score tickets to next weekend’s festival.

Last year the network and AEG teamed with the mall to present a four-week series of shows dubbed "The Road to the BET Experience." “American Idol” winner Candice Glover, Eric Benet, Marsha Ambrosuis, Day 26, RaVaughn, Eric Bellinger, Adrian Marcel, Dondria and Mila J all performed.

The BET Experience pairs headlining concerts with late-night shows, wellness seminars, celebrity panels, new artist showcases and a free expo along with a number of other events revolving around the awards show telecast.

Set for June 25-28, the festival opens with a stand-up show by comedian Kevin Hart at Staples Center. Nicki Minaj follows, heading a lineup that includes Ne-Yo and rising acts Tinashe and Rae Sremmurd. Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Schoolboy Q lead a hip-hop-focused bill for the third night of shows at Staples.

R&B group Bell Biv DeVoe and hip-hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh will also appear in the first of a string of late-night shows at Club Nokia. The group will follow Hart’s stand-up gig, R&B sensation Miguel will follow Minaj, and the Roots return for another guest-filled jam session after the rap showcase. The hip-hop band will pay tribute to late producer and rapper J Dilla in a set also featuring Erykah Badu and other surprise performers.

The Los Angeles Convention Center will again host the festival’s free fan expo during the weekend.

For its third year, BET expanded the festival to four dates. Late last month the network and AEG announced a deal to continue the multi-day festival through 2018.

Single-day Staples Center show tickets start at $59.50, with three-day packages starting at $169.50. Club Nokia ticket prices vary by artist.

VIP packages, which include a ticket to the award show, range from $1,095 to $4,395. More information can be found on the festival’s site.

The BET Experience kick-off concert begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.

 For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy

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