*Los Angeles – The 7th Annual Taste of Soul was held on Saturday,October 20,2012.This event is the most anticipated festival to take place in the Fall,and on “The Shaw” as Crenshaw Blvd. is affectionately called.
The Taste of Soul is considered the premier,biggest block party in the city.The organizers promised and delivered another day of top notched entertainment,dance,art and great soul food that unites people from diverse communities throughout Los Angeles and beyond.
“A Taste of Soul was created to highlight the positive aspects of African American life and to encourage the enjoyment,respect,and appreciation of our community and each other in an atmosphere of peace,pride and pleasure,” state Danny J.Bakewell,Sr.,Taste of Soul Creator.
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Crenshaw Blvd. was blocked off from Stocker on the South;Rodeo on the North; MLK/MClung on the East; and MLK/Marlton on the West.The clouds opened up to allow the sun to brightened up the 7th Annual Taste of Soul.A crowd estimated at “over 250.000” was in attendance for an afternoon of smooth jazz, reggae, R&B,and gospel music,plus an children’s stage and the inaugural Starquest Stage for emerging talent.
I stayed at this years Taste of Soul beyond the couple of hours that I had promised myself.This was due to a photo pit that was installed in front of the KJLH Stage.Photographers didn’t have to compete with several hundred people while trying to capture the ever elusive “MONEY SHOT.”
With all due respect to the other superb musicians showcased on the various stages,the talent on the KJLH Stage once again proved to be the talk of the town before the festival and the days and weeks afterwards.
Not sure how I missed the opening sets featuring Renee Spearman and Private Affair. My dose of music began while checking out B Peace as he entertained the crowd and I with some popular tunes “Must be Love,” “Bigger Than Both of Us,” and “International.”
Brent Jones featuring the Orange County Gospel Choir injected the scene with some spiritually, uplifting,roof raising gospel sounds.We got our Praise on with the tunes “Cry Holy,” “Don’t Wait til Midnight,” and “Joy Cometh in the Morning.”
The KJLH Gospel Choir aka “King Jesus Lives Hallelujah Gospel Choir kept the Praises flowing on “I Will Bless The Lord,At All Times,” “God Is An Awesome God,” and “Time For A Miracle.”
The Dancing Doctor aka Dr. Zahra Tabassian from UCLA,was returning for the second year in a row to lead the crowd in a joyous Dance to Life of music and dance therapy to improving health and happiness.
Charles Wright and The 103rd Street Rhythm Band were the best dressed musicians on the line-up.They brought in a truck load of soul/R&B drenched in a little funk to take the crowd on a romantic journey to “Loveland,” and invited the crowd on an inter-active journey on the tunes “Do Your Thang,” and “Express Yourself.” Check out the latest CD by Charles Wright entitled Let’s Make Love Tonight.
Lina graced the stage after a quick change on the stage.The crowd sang along during her brief set on the tunes “I Won’t Let My Baby Down,” followed by the popular tune “Smooth.”
Actor/vocalist Andre Pitre performed “Green Light-I’m Ready to Go,” “I Want Your Loving,Baby,” and “Love Always.” Actress/vocalist Tichina Arnold was backed by a tight band during her set.She thrilled the crowd and I on the tunes “Blast Off,” reggae tinged “Moment” and rocked out on “Strange” with a little funk thrown in for good measure.
Leland performed his current hit “Running After You,” followed by John Michael who sang “Sophisticated Lady” both of these tunes are getting plenty of rotations on KJLH Radio Free 102.3FM.
Margo Thunder returned for another year to do a marvelous job of entertaining the crowd on the tracks “Lady Marmalade,” and Feel the Fire,” the title track from her latest CD.
Contemporary smooth jazz saxophonist Jackiem Joyner allowed the crowd and I to just groove doing his crowd pleasing set on the tunes “Remember Me,” “Just Groove,” “You Are Good,” and sermonized the crowd on “Still I Rise” from his latest CD Church Boy, released October 23rd,2012.
We revisited some additional neo/soul delivered right on time by Brooke Valentine on the songs “Don’t Wanna Be in Love,” and “Rub It In.” The KJLH Stage kicked into high gear with a high octane set performed by Q Parker.The highlight of the festival, in my ever so humble opinion was the set by El Debarge,who performed a set of his greatest hits while receiving plenty of love and support from the crowd.
Stevie Wonder was joined onstage with Danny J.Bakewell Sr., and KJLH Staff to lead the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to the Rev.Jesse Jackson,who was also in attendance for the 7th Annual Taste of Soul.
The KJLH Stage also featured the talented vocal stylings of Adrian Battle the winner of the inaugural Taste of Soul Starquest Showcase,Johnny Gill,Luke James and Eric Benet to wrap up another successful evening at the 7th Annual Taste of Soul.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]t