*Los Angeles – Summer is edging closer and closer.  Most people will be singing “School is out for the Summer,” and other theme related tunes. This is also the time to break out a different set of clothing for the warm weather days.

If you live in Southern California, Summer also ushers in eclectic music festivals and concerts. These popular concerts and festivals will be taking place in parks, shopping centers, coffee shops, and musuems to name a few. I’m sure that your dance card (social calendar) is full of activities now that the weather is warmer and the days are longer.

yazmin monet watkins

Yazmin Monet Watkins

At the California African American Museum, weather is never a factor when planning their monthly Target [email protected] Program. Target [email protected] (Calilfornia African American Musuem) takes place the first Sunday of each month, with a few notable exceptions throughout the year.

You have probably heard the phrase “Jazz Made in America;Enjoyed by the World.” This and similar sayings adorn t-shirsts, baseball caps and other memorablilia. I have a cap with “Jazz made in America: Loved by the World.” Jazz in June! was the most recent program that I’ve attended at the California African American Musuem. The program was held on Sunday, June 2nd, outdoors, under beautiful skies with a little breeze.

Ms. Teresa Tolliver, professional artist and educator guided participants in the very popular Community Art Project. Open to all ages, everyone is welcome to express their artistic, creative side during the program. DJ N’Namdi always compliments the program with his musical selections for the occassion.

Charmaine Jefferson, CAAM Executive Director, welcomed the crowd along with co-hosts, performer Freda Payne and actor Jefferey Andersn-Gunther. Yazmin Monet Watkins, internationally known spoken word poet and actress from Los Angeles kicked off the program with a wonderful piece entitled “Ode to B.B.King.” She shared several original poems throughout the afternoon.

The live musical portion of the program continued with Ryan Cross and Friends. Mr. Cross served as CAAM’s Musical Director for Jazz in June!. He was aided and abetted by Kenneth Crouch on piano and Donald Barrett on drums. Ryan donned his educators hat to explain the history of jazz through snippets of ragtime from New Orleans, down home delta blues. Afterwards, we took “The A Train” to New York to “Dukes’ Place” for some jazz, and ended up in Church for our final exam.

dominique toney

Dominique Toney

Oya Thomas was the first special guest to perform with the trio. Her hearthfelt original songs and thoughtful interpretations of timeless favorites, pays homage to great vocalists who has influenced her career. She performed two standards and two original tunes “Amazing Grace,” “Accentuate the Positive,” “Peace in the Valley,” and “Love.”

World renowned piano player Kevin Toney accompanied his daughter Dominique Toney with the band as she dazzled the crowd on “God Bless the Child,” and “Can’t Take That” an original tune. Dominique is also a songwriter an actress from Los Angeles.

Crystal Starr Knighton is another amazing singer/actress who just returned from starring in the Broadway musical Baby It’s You. She opened her set with a tune that was fitting for the day “Summertime” and continued to entertain the crowd with “My Funny Valentine,” and concluded her set with “At Last” followed by a standing ovation.

The crowd and I was treated to the wonderful vocal stylings of Freda Payne. Ms. Payne debutted material from a yet to be released CD. Ms. Payne performed “I Would Rather Drink Muddy Water,” and a beautiful ballad “Here’s to Life.”

The show continued with another marvelous performance by singer C.J. Emmons. Mr. Emmons currently directs the Artists Development Department at Horipro Music. Target Sundays at CAAM is generously funded by Target Corporation.

For general information about California African American Museum, call (213)744-7432, Target Sundays Hotline (213)744-2132 or visit www.caamuseum.org for a list of exhibits and upcoming events, hours, locations etc.

    Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based music reviewer, writer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]