Black L.A. Makes TASTE OF SOUL The No. 1 L.A. Street Festival
– Robert Torrence Photo
Over 100,000 came out for the fourth annual Taste of Soul, the biggest street festival in Los Angeles with music, entertainment and family fun on Crenshaw Boulevard
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
In an awesome display of love and respect, Black families, friends and neighbors, strolled the “Shaw” enjoying live entertainment, sprinkled with a Taste of Soul in one of the most enduring displays of enjoyment our community has ever seen.Over 100,000 people gathered to enjoy our own community in A Taste of Soul.
There was something for everyone. The fourth annual Taste of Soul festival was a celebration of the community, for the community and by the community. The music was good; the weather was great and the food was fantastic. The two main stages at both ends of the boulevard were the triggers that mobilized the festivities. One was Radio Free 102.3 KJLH and the other was 94.7 the Wave; in between them there were other smaller stages.
All segments of the community were represented: businesses, organizations, schools education and government. They mingled with the entertainers, interacted with the people and had a wonderful Saturday on the Crenshaw Strip. Brenda Marsh-Mitchell and her band of volunteers set the stage for the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Council-members Jan Perry, Bernard Parks and Herb Wesson who without their leadership, this event would not have been possible. Also in attendance were Congresswoman Laura Richardson, Assembly-member Isadore Hall, Mayor Roosevelt Dorn (Inglewood) and Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. Along with the elected officials, there were Dorothy Leavell, chairwoman of NNPA Foundation; Judge Mablean Ephraim; Robert McNeill, Jr. of Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt; Beverly White, local NBC anchor; Charisse Bremond, president of the Brotherhood Crusade and Adrian Sears, Inglewood Police Commissioner.
Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., the creator of A Taste of Soul, expressed his gratitude saying, “This could not have happened were it not for the support from the Mayor and the entire city council but specifically Council-members Jan Perry, Bernard Parks and Herb Wesson; their leadership is outstanding. The Sentinel and the community will forever be indebted to them for making A Taste of Soul the institution it has become.”
The Wave stage held its own tempo with guitarist Ray Fuller and saxophonist Eric Darius, one of the youngest jazz artists. They kept the crowd alive along with Chosen Gospel Recovery, Sai Whatt Band and Gail Johnson. The evening’s act were capped off by Grammy Award winning recording artist Norman Brown, who brought the festival to a close with a perfect ending and a roaring crowd.
Not to be outdone, the KJLH stage struck back with Eric Benet, Sounds of Blackness, Bebe Winans, Lenny Williams and Yoyo. These were punctuated with gospel music from the Kingdom Worship Choir, Greater Zion Church and the Antioch Church of Long Beach. There were nostalgic moments during songs attributed to the memory of Michael Jackson, to Stevie Wonder and Anita Baker. Yolanda Harris, Indira Khan (Chaka Khan’s daughter) and the Sylvers also belted out songs that rendered some unforgettable moments.
In the midst of all the fun and excitement, there were several businesses and schools that were instrumental in not letting the crowd forget that after the fun is over, it’s back to serious business and tight economic times. There were the Hillcrest School of Inglewood, Marcus Garvey School, L.A. County Health Department, Brotherhood Crusade, Mothers In Action, several insurance companies, the Disney Company, the Gas Company, U.S. Postal Service, L.A. County Sheriff Department and California Highway Patrol.
Bakewell told FOX 11 News, “This is really an event for the people. It is an opportunity for us to come out, enjoy our own community, socialize with each other, and do something positive in our community.”
Â Parks, in whose district the festival is held, stated, “This festival that the L.A. Sentinel and KJLH brings together is about celebrating community. This festival brings together 100,000 people from various parts of Los Angeles for a peaceful day to enjoy great food, as well as enjoy each other, along with great artists and music. I am glad to be a part of this wonderful event every year.”
Special recognition goes to Brenda Marsh-Mitchell who put it all together and guided the entire event to a successful conclusion. The Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Nation of Islam were instrumental in seeing that everyone were enjoying themselves in peace and respect for each other, and for the overall security for the day’s activities. But the greatest security was the community and their families who made this event possible in a peaceful and joyous atmosphere.