This year, the 94.7 The Wave Stage brings “Black Girl Magic” to Taste of Soul.
The source of smooth R&B and jazz for Southern California, the 94.7 The Wave Stage is once again bringing musical icons to Taste of Soul in Sister Sledge and Jodi Watley. One of three entertainment stages at the largest, family festival in SoCal, 94.7 The Wave is known for its noteworthy line-up at Taste of Soul.
Sister Sledge are undisputedly one of the most iconic female groups of all time. Sisters, Debbie, Joni, and Kim (sister Kathy stepped away from the ensemble in 1989), are daughters of entrepreneur/actress Florez Sledge and acclaimed Broadway performer, Edwin Sledge. Their grandmother, Viola Beatrix Hairston Williams, an accomplished lyric-opera soprano, provided unique vocal training to the siblings early on. Arranging for her granddaughters to perform at church events and community functions, the quartet were first introduced to the world as Mrs. Williams Granddaughters. Before long, they formed a band and with Debbie serving as vocal arranger, Joni as artistic director and Mom, Florez as manager, Sister Sledge was born.
Performing jazz, soul, gospel, disco, and R&B, the multi-lead vocal group flourished both in-studio and onstage. The sisters built a formidable reputation, dazzling audiences and impressing critics. They also made certain to complete academic studies, each of them earning a Temple University college degree.
Achieving success across borders, the group enjoyed huge popularity in Africa, performing at the “Rumble in the Jungle” Ali-Foreman heavyweight-boxing match, in Japan where they won the prestigious Tokyo Music Festival Silver Prize, and across Europe. In the U.S.A they became a household name with the blockbuster release of the iconic “We Are Family” album, produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. Following “He’s The Greatest Dancer,” came the albums seminal title track, “We Are Family” which skyrocketed the group in to the musical stratosphere. “We Are Family” became the theme song for the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. The hit songs “Lost in music,” “Thinking of You” and “All American Girls” followed.
Over the years, the group has amassed a string of Gold and Platinum records, accumulating total sales of over 15,000,000 worldwide. Garnering along the way additional Grammy Nominations for Record of the Year and Best R&B Duo or group, Sister Sledge has earned over 100 awards and commendations.
Jody Watley is timeless and not limited to era or genre. A Grammy award-winning artist, Watley was ranked by Billboard Magazine in 2016 as one of the Greatest Dance Club Acts of All Time and hailed by Wax Poetics’s Dean Van Nguyen as one of music’s prominent visionaries whose influence remains a touchstone in contemporary music. In 2017, Watley was an honoree as “Crossover Music Icon” on the second year of the television broadcast, Black Music Honors.
Watley’s groundbreaking career as solo artist kicked off with her debut album “Jody Watley” whose chart-topping lead single “Looking for a New Love” launched the Watley-penned catch phrase “Hasta la vista, baby,” into pop culture vernacular, garnered the prestigious Best New Artist award and countless nominations and hits that have followed over the course of decades in her career. January 2017 marked the 30th Anniversary of the debut release single and self-titled album. “Who knew writing a song about a guy who had done me wrong would turn out be the beginning of such an incredible journey,” she stated.
Her accolades impress with 7 Hot 100 singles, 13 #1 Dance Singles, 15 Top 40 Singles, 4 #1 R&B Singles and over 30 million albums sold worldwide. Her classic 1989 cut “Friends” carved the template for both R&B/hip-hop and pop/hip-hop fusions to come, being the first time a rapper (the legendary Rakim, of Eric B. & Rakim) wrote original verses for an R&B/ pop song and it’s video fusing club culture with b-boys, club kids, transgender and drag queens with fashionistas.
Since her days as the original female lead vocalist and distinct female sound of the R&B trio, Shalamar, departing in 1983 after hits like “A Night To Remember”, “Take That To The Bank” and “The Second Time Around,” Watley emerged as always ahead of the pop culture curve. Watley’s sleek music video for 1989’s smash hit “Real Love,” premiered a signature visual style that would later impart to other pop divas and remains one of MTV’s Most Nominated of All Time. In honor of her visionary fusion of fashion, music, and music videos, Watley was featured in VOGUE Italia’s groundbreaking “Black Issue” in 2008 as an homage to opening the door for acceptance between music and fashion in the mainstream with early appearances with her debut in VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar and Rolling Stone and countless magazines around the world.
An award-winning songwriter, producer and businesswoman owning her label formed in 1995, Avitone, this venerable artist continues to create her own unique path. Watley featuring SRL is working on a debut album “Bridges” due in 2018 adding to already released popular singles and videos “The Mood” and “O.R.I.G.in.A.L.” Expect more solo music and dynamic concerts around the world.
The best part is you can catch Sister Sledge and Jodi Watley at Taste of Soul on one stage—94.7 The Wave Stage. You can only catch them live here, at Taste of Soul, Saturday, October 20, from 10AM-7PM.
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Brian W. Carter contributed to this article.