With the nation focused on America’s political climate and ravaging natural disasters, Californians were blessed to enjoy a moment of fun in the sun at Baldwin Hill Crenshaw Plaza’s 70th Anniversary Celebration, featuring Grammy-award winning artist Faith Evans. Hundreds of local residents gathered at the plaza to partake in gourmet food truck pleasantries and to see the free concert, which also included performances from neo-soul artist Rose Gold, L.A. native iLL Camille, Barbara Morrison, Medusa, Fernando Pullam, DJ Eque, and dancers from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.
In an epic live performance, Evans brought the house down performing a medley of songs including, “I Love You”, “Love Like This”, and “Soon as I Get Home”. Wearing a sexy leg bearing tribal ensemble with yellow patent leather shoes, Evans then gifted the crowd with surprise guest performances from Hip-Hop greats Jada Kiss and Lil Cease.
Evans says she always enjoys the opportunity to take the stage in Los Angeles, especially when she can give back to fans who’ve supported her music over the years.
“From day one, I felt a major amount of love every time I came here, since my first single, so I’ve always felt at home here. I guess that’s why I felt comfortable moving here,” Evans said. “I’m proud to be considered kind of like a native,” she said.
Behind the scenes, Evans had the opportunity to view artwork of the late music icon Biggie Smalls, painted by famed oil and acrylic portrait artist, Mohammed Mubarak. Having recently completed the A&E documentary on her late partner and father to her son, the portrait, which bared an uncanny resemblance to Smalls, brought everyone into the undying spirit of his music and legacy through Faith.
We also caught up with larger than life TV personality and singer James Wright Chanel, who not only sings background to Evans, but legendary singer, Patti LaBelle as well. Wright-Chanel says he’s been singing with Evans for a while, and still gets mesmerized. “First of all, she’s dope. Sometimes you’re behind her and you forget that you’re performing and you kind of like fan-out,” Wright-Chanel said. Now scheduled to appear in the upcoming season of “Tamar and Vince”, along with his very own show on WEtv, Wright-Chanel says it’s important never to give up on your dreams, no matter your age or circumstance.
“You have to start forgiving folks, forgive people, it’s not for them it’s for you; so you can go ahead and walk in what God has called you to walk in,” he said. “Forgiving is like cleansing. Keep your eye on the prize; don’t give up on whatever it is that you do,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Baltimore native Rose Gold also hit the stage, performing hits, “Drive Me to Drink” and “Think of You”, with Terrace Martin off his “Velvet Portraits” project. Rose Gold says that her music is continuously evolving, and that her upcoming projects won’t be like anything we’ve heard from her before. “You gon’ find a lotta new things every time I make music; we learn every time. It’s more special to me because it’s me growing and I know that next time it’s gone be cooler and cooler, I feel that way,” she said.
In true political fashion, California State Assembly member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas showed up on the scene, sharing knowledge about how South Los Angeles can continue to come together as a community amidst massive redevelopment changes in the area.
“Stay woke, we gotta’ read, subscribe to the Sentinel, subscribe to Black journalistic institutions and media companies, we need to be very attentive and take our Black Twitter energy and put it into action,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Martin Luther King led a civil rights movement without a fax machine. Now we got email and text [messages] and we can get busy,” he added.
Ridley-Thomas says that the key to sustainability of Black businesses, culture, and art in the area, include ensuring that there is ample affordable housing, local hires, supplier diversity, business inclusion and procurement opportunities on the Crenshaw line. Tangible goals include 25% local hires, 30% business procurement, and the recruitment and training of local students. Ridley-Thomas pledges that using effective models like these will help open doors for more people of color not just in entry level, line working positions, but executive positons as well.
“It’s that kind of modeling, it’s that kind of intentional civility, it’s that kind of investment that I hope will permeate and show the way forward for our community, so that we can own, we can live, and we can thrive,” Ridley-Thomas declared.
On another note, rapper iLL Camille felt right at home, quite literally, saying that the home she grew up in is in walking distance from the cultural hub in South L.A. “My family lives in View Park; I could walk here if I wanted to. Like, I grew up in a house around the corner, this is like a mall I went to as a kid,” she said. “So being able to perform in front of probably people that seen me grow up is incredible; that’s success to me.”
iLL Camille, who says her latest album “Heirloom” is “about the people”, says the key to retaining progressive harmony in South L.A. goes into practicing group economics and supporting each other’s business.
“We just gotta’ know the value of who we are and what we can bring to each other as a community you know, practice group economics. We can keep everything in place, and just learn to be in partnership with each other, and buy things off of each other, and smile and speak,” she concluded.
To see exclusive interviews with Faith Evans, Rose Gold, iLL Camille and more, visit lasentinel.net.