Crystal Starr Knighton & Judith Hill
*Los Angeles – All across the United States, people celebrated the 4th of July in numerous ways.
There were parades, picnics in the park, block parties, camping, chillaxin’ on the beach, lake, river or by the pool, just to name a few.
I joined thousands of revelers in Exposition Park for two over-lapping, outstanding Independence Day Celebrations. My first stop was the KJLH Exposition Park Fireworks Extravaganza & Music Festival. This event was held in collaboration with KJLH 102.3 FM Radio Free, Councilmember Bernard Parks, 8th District, A Better LA and Exposition Park. Press material stated “this is the best and brightest 4th of July experience in the City.”
This event was fun for the entire family, with a line-up of some of LA’s hottest local bands, kids bounce houses and entertainment, food vendors. Gregory Johnson, KJLH Marketing and Promotion Director served as Master of Ceremonies. DJ Rock provided old school soundtracks for the celebration.
The show got underway with saxophonist Dr. Alvin McKinney, adorned in a Patriotic tie. Dr. Alvin is a one man band, with tremendous Joy for the Lord. He thoroughly entertained the crowd with material from his latest CD Spiritual Journey in a program of Gospel Jazz on “Amazing Grace” with a tinge of funk, “The National Anthem,” “And All Heavens Smile” an original composition with some calypso rhythms. The Good Reverend busted out with a few salsa dance moves. He serenaded several women while roaming through the crowd. He concluded his set with “Dot Your I’, Cross Your T’s for Christ.”
Iyanna Burrell complimented the program by spreading some positive spiritual vibes on “I Will Praise Your Name.” The KJLH Gospel Choir put on a good show as we had Church on 4th of July. Their set also featured the tunes “He”ll Make a Way,” “God is May All and All,” “He Shall Reign Forevermore,” and “I’m Going to Heaven.”
The spirit of the Lord was present by way of Keno Camp as they gave testimonials in the form of hip-hop/rap on “We’re Here,” “Walking,” “This is How We Praise.” The Johnson Family continued giving God the Glory on “Lord You Reign” and “Lord Your Are Great & Mighty.” The Men of Vision followed with some old time gospel on “I’m Giving It To God Instead,” “Start All Over Again,” “You Got To Live Right” and concluded with “He Keeps Doing Great Things For Me.”
DJ Rock got the crowd moving and dancing The Wobble, Cha Cha and Electric Slide as the program switched over to R&B/Soul for the remainder of the afternoon/evening. Christine Devine of Fox 11 News introduced artist Lotis as he debutted two original tunes “Something Right” and “Messed Up.”
Vocalist Elaine Stepter, former member of Rose Royce played material from her latest CD Elaine Stepter Live at Hollywood Park Casino to an appreciated crowd. She performed “I’ll See You Next Lifetime,” “Wishing On A Star,” “God Bless the Child,” and her original composition “Where’s the Love” recorded several days ago in studio before this gig.
Remix, performers from BET 106 & Park had a captivated audience of youth and adults during their brief set on the tunes “You Are One of a Kind,” “Drop It Low,” and “They Know That She’s Watching Me.” My enjoyment of this program concluded with some classic R&B covers performed wonderfully by In-Section.
America’s birthday was celebrated “CAAM Style!” outside on the Plaza at California African American Museum for a special 4th of July Target Sundays. The celebration got under way with a rousing version of “The National Anthem” performed superbly by Nita Whitaker LaFontaine.
Next up to perform was Malachi Cohen, a 17 year old, singer, actor, songwriter, dancer and multi-instrumentalist joined by dancers Elijah Tomlison and Joshua Christian. You have probably recognized him as the newest star of Nick Toons new show “NFL-Rush Zone” playing the lead character of “Ish.” He performed four tunes while alternating between keyboards and guitar. The tunes were “Don’t Wake Me Up.” “Out of Town Girl,” “Take Over,” and “Extraordinary Girl.”
Ryan Cross and Friends performed several jazz standards. Vocalist Crystall Starr Knighton dazzled the crowd with “Valerie” and an original composition “Pay Back” that resonated well with the crowd.
Judith Hill a recent performer on this seasons hit TV Show “The Voice” was fabulous as well. A huge crowd gathered to hear her performed “Beautiful Life,” “My People” with lots of funk and a tinge of gospel. This tune was part of Spike Lee’s film Red Hot Summer and “You Are Always on My Mind.”
The program continued with Albert Salas and Gilberto Sanchez, and a return engagement of vocalist C.J. Emmons. The grand finale consisted of a palette of fireworks in all of its splendor, over the Coliseum and Exposition Park.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based music reviewer,writer and photographer. Contact him via:firstname.lastname@example.org