The innocence of a child recognizing the symbols of McDonalds, religions of Christianity merging with that of Islam, smoke scents of spicy barbeque clashing with that of healthy vegan foods, the bellowing sounds of gospel lifting spirits skyward just a block away from rhythms of soul southbound on Martin Luther King Blvd. All embellished with the massive sprinkles of an estimated 75,000 Los Angeles residents confirmed the essence of what has become known as “Taste of Soul” on Saturday Oct. 13.
Just hours before a down pouring of rain drenched the region, but by mid morning the gods in the sky had cooperated enough for the clouds to give way to a peak of sunshine enough to dry what was left of the much needed rainfall and thus the only umbrellas on this festive occasion were those shading the vendors serving hot and cool eateries that was consumed by the thousands of walkers as they made their trek to a destination of choice, or shall it be pointed out their destination of taste.
“Last year this was a phenomenal event so I knew this was going to be great,” rejoiced Councilman Herb Wesson who arrived just as the “Taste of Soul” began at 10 a.m. “It’s bigger now than it was last year. I just left the stage and it’s 12-noon and I estimate that there are almost 35,000 people here.”
Amazingly that was the number of people calculated for the inaugural event in 2006.
As Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. opened the R&B concert on King Blvd. welcoming the sea of onlookers, he credited queen of Black media Cathy Hughes and her radio station V100 FM for sharing his vision for bring the Black community together for “Taste of Soul.”
“This is an important day in all of our lives because it certifies that we are together and that our voices collectively can cause a ripple in the in the waves of the mightiest oceans, and more importantly that we ca gather in the sprit of brotherhood and sisterhood in a way reflective of the power we possess,” Bakewell said to the roar of the crowd.
Joined by his son Danny Bakewell Jr. and grandson Danny Bakewell III their presence indicated their will be a generations of his vision for decades to come.
Bo Taylor, a V100 radio talk show host, spoke to the heart of the community one that has been incensed with the foul odor of gangs and crime and as an icon of local gang intervention pledged to keep the flame burning for hope that peace accords among the many fractions will continue for the betterment of the Black community.
A chorus of other political figures such as Councilman Wesson and Councilwoman Jan Perry echoed their many sentiments and then the show began.
And what a show it was, with the Mary Jane Girls reminding us of the legend of pop icon, the late Rick James, and always crowd favorite Polyester Players paying tribute to Bobby Womack, Al Green and popping it off with metaphoric fit of James Brown, recognize forever and always as the Godfather of Soul.
The “Bad Boy” of radio always doing good and powerful things Michael Baisden showed up and pitted the men against the women again in albeit tasteful fashion and SEIU President Tyrone Freeman reminded all that with such a huge showing it is paramount to translate the power of the numbers to the ballot box where it really counts.
Wild Child Bobby Brown was a pleasing appetite deluging the crowd in sing along of his popular hits “My Prerogative” and “Don’t be Cruel” before signing off with Stevie Wonder fan favorite “Superstition.”
He was solidly followed by the final entrée, Angie Stone, that left the audience clamoring for more as the sun as long gave way to dawn.
Appropriately the crowd which consisted of infants, teens, adults young and old begin exiting, but not before grabbing another taste of food for the soul and not quite realizing the monumental impact they had on an event held on a street on a Saturday in October that will forever be engraved into their memory as “Taste of Soul.”