Rickey Minor brilliance elevates Compton concert to another orbit
The City of Compton shall return to normal this week after yet another stunningly spectacular showcase of the annual Summer Soul Jam concert series that left a sea of thousands breathless and delighted with six hours of music, tributes, food and fun last Saturday at the Par Three Golf Course.As actresses Holly Robinson-Peete and Tisha Campbell-Martin unveiled yet another gift that few knew they had and the baritone of Johnny Gill serenaded “My-My-My” while canvassing the manicured grass among the crowd, what began as just a vision four years ago transformed into an elite show. “As much as I knew that this would be a huge undertaking with enormous risk, the rewards will always flourish, especially when you have someone of the ilk of Rickey Minor leading the way,” said Sentinel Executive Publisher and event co-creator Danny Bakewell Sr.A dark cloud was cast over Summer Soul Jam as it paid final respects to three iconic figures who each died within a day of each other.Comedian Jonathan Slocumb led the tribute to his friend Bernie Mac, hailing him as a mentor and comedic treasure. Then local KJLH radio personality Guy Black led the tribute to noted peace keeper Bo Taylor, calling him a hero for putting his life on the battle lines of gang wars and being the most significant voice that local gangs have ever had.Finally, Minor spoke fondly of Isaac Hayes, who last year was the headline attraction of Summer Soul Jam. Black even joined the band in a brief rendition of Hayes’ most iconic song, the “Theme from Shaft.”While the three fallen stars were remembered, one living rising star was also honored at the event.Isadore Hall III, long-time Compton City Councilman and co-creator of Summer Soul Jam was honored for his many achievements in the city as he now moves forward to champion their cause in the California State Assembly this fall. Minor, the director, producer and musician extraordinaire, gave the annual Compton Summer Soul Jam the Midas touch and was chiefly instrumental in attracting the artists and composing the music for them.“As much as I believe in the Black community, only Rickey Minor could have persuaded me to come here and sing,” Robinson-Peete told the crowd.After Gill had completed his set, which bellowed throughout the greens of the golf course and onto Compton Blvd. where traffic stretched more than 20 cars, Minor took his only break during the show.Chiming with the main entrée Anthony Hamilton, Minor was told by Hamilton, “Yeah you’re going to need a break before me.” However, that abbreviated hiatus would be short lived as Minor would return to what he does best after a 15-minute break, and the show was back on.Grabbing his bass guitar and directing the keyboards and instructing the drummer simultaneously, Hamilton graced the Summer Soul Jam stage and casually strolled to the microphone.Before he could hit his first note, the massive crowd began inching closer to the stage, not to just listen, but to feel his energy. By the time, he struck his first vocal to the popular “Ain’t Anybody Worryin,” the crowd was up on its feet, swinging back and forth to his every lyric.Hamilton gave the audience a double dose as his wife, Tarsha McMillan Hamilton, also performed.He was followed by a Southland musical icon: Charlie Wilson, the former leader of “The Gap Band” who at 55 years young can still bring it as evident in his concert concluding performance at Summer Soul Jam.But make no mistake about it. This concert was as much about Minor as it was about any of the aforementioned performers.A product of the projects who came to Los Angeles as a child from Louisiana, Minor’s credibility is an instant magnet for any headline performer.He lists among his many credits being the director and producer of American Idol, the hottest show in television history, and has accelerated from his beginning as bass player with Gladys Knight and The Pips to becoming omnipresent.Minor has already been an author of sorts, contributing to “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, and an American Idol version to his soon to be released book, “There’s No Traffic on the Extra Mile.”For those fortunate to have the experience of Summer Soul Jam, it was all Minor, but in a major way it was much about them as it was about him.