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(In photo: The Belle and Morris Chestnut)

TBR — Beverly Hills, CA — The Merge Summit now becoming “thee must attend” conference of the year, for aspiring actors, singers, industry executives and music lovers, celebrated its five year anniversary. With the Millennium Biltmore Hotel serving as the back drop and nestled in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, attendees once again found themselves in a comfortable setting with anticipation of some of the hottest topics in the entertainment industry being led by some of the biggest names in the business serving as panelists, moderators and facilitators.

Kicking off on Thursday night with a Red Carpet and Reception, followed by back to back classes on Friday and Saturday with nearly 100 of the industry’s top entertainers and executives leading more than 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions, covering music, television, film, creative development, and branding, marketing and new media, this was truly the perfect place to be for industry networking.

The weekend also included the Wellness Lounge sponsored by Wellness Interactive Inc. and Walgreens, an Awards Luncheon and the BET Music Matters showcase. The weekend concluded with Freedom: The Merge Concert sponsored by RCA Inspiration, featuring Mali Music and “Sunday Best” finalist Jessica Reedy, Gospel rapper Tedashii and Kierra Sheard, star of the hit reality series, “The Sheards” on BET Networks was hosted by Major “The Crooner.”

Some of the exceptional talent that participated over the weekend included power couple, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance as they talked about The Balancing Act: Prioritizing Marriage, Faith and Career. Suzanne de Passe hosted the Bold, Beautiful & On Purpose a session featuring several dynamic women including media mogul, Tracey Edmonds.  Sheilah Belle, CEO and President of The Belle Report, hosted How Did You Do That, a special session with the independent label Reach Records, featuring several of their staff including their CEO and top selling Hip Hop artist Lecrae.

The Merge, founded by Holly Carter and co-founder Robi Reed also hosted it’s Third Annual Awards Luncheon on Saturday, August 24th and honored three individuals who have been instrumental in bridging the gap between faith and entertainment. The 2013 honorees this year included Steve Pemberton, Divisional Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer of Walgreens and Pastor Toure Roberts of One Church International in Los Angeles.

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