Summer Soul Jam concert puts new face on the Hub City

Famed golfer Tiger Woods has never attracted as many Blacks to a golf course during his illustrious career and if he did they could not have enjoyed the peaceful exhibition more than 6,000 spectators did last Saturday at Compton’s Par-3 Golf Course at the annual Soul Jam Concert series.

Chronically labeled for its many misgivings, there wasn’t a national or local television media outlet to be found on a day when the Hub City was arguably the safest place to be.

“If someone was throwing a rock at a car on the freeway the news cameras would be here before the rock hit the car,” quipped concert executive producer and Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell Sr.

For decades the Hub City has been unjustifiably tabbed the murder capital of America, but on this day that resembled a family picnic befit with snack baskets, drinks and music-plenty of it—it could have been hailed the music capital of the world.

The world had its eyes closed while Compton opened its arms and makeshift stage to a cast of musician’s renown throughout the nation.

Patrons ate, chattered, danced and clapped from the sinful delicious Clarence Carter to the spiritually majestic Yolanda Adams, to the stirring Angie Stone and the legendary Isaac Hayes who each performed renditions of their distinct style.

The only complaints on this day was the fun could not have lasted for ever as even the Los Angeles County Sheriff had no use for their batons or weapons as the ongoing face lift of the City resumed on this scorching day where the threes did not catch a breeze until sundown.

The long-awaited event delivered all of what was promised and more when the bevy of rhythm and blues fans converged on the manicured grass to enjoy the world-class lineup of performers, some of the area’s most delectable ethnic foods, a serene setting and a pleasant and friendly festival-type atmosphere.

Access to the sprawling venue began a little after 11 a.m. on Saturday. City of Compton volunteers were on-hand to direct patrons to the parking shuttle buses. Food vendors were already set-up to offering delightful taste ranging from seafood, chicken, and links to ice cream, fruit cobblers to fruit smoothies.

Other merchants, community services providers, ethnic apparel distributors, collectibles vendors, and even a Mercedes-Benz automobile dealer’s representatives were on-hand along with dozens of other exhibitors and vendors anxious to participate at Soul Jam which is etching its on legacy in Compton’s gifted history which is known as the birth pace of rap music.

Patrons maneuvered throughout the specially-built stage to secure a sunny or shady spot to set up their lawn chairs lay atop blankets, sip cool beverages and relax.

Recorded music provided by radio-FREE station KJLH, 102.3 FM, filled the air as Isadore Hall, III, Compton City Council Member and host of the Compton Summer Soul Jam, and Sentinel publisher Bakewell, Sr. greeted the early morning crowd which continuted to swell through the afternoon and early evening.

Also in attendace was special guest, multiple Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis.

Billy Valentine, the Sai-Whatt Band, AJ, Thicke, Linda Hopkins and Eloise Laws and the Laws Family were among the first performers in the lineup and each delivered exceptional performances.

Setting the stage for the concert crescendo which continued to build with each electrifying performance as the audience awaited.

Later performers included Carter, Stone, Adams and Isaac Hayes.

Following each artist’s warm greeting and expressed appreciation for their participation in this special Compton festival, they soon launched into their repertoire of hit songs and original, yet-to-be-released offerings that the crowd eagerly awaited.

From the smooth sounds of Eloise Laws and the Laws family to the seasoned performance of Clarence Carter, with his adult-oriented monologue and lyrics as well as his delivery of past hit songs, to the spirited gospel songs delivered by Adams, and crowd-favorites by Angie Stone, the lineup of performers and musical program was extraordinary.

“The artists are delivering all of the songs I expected to hear as well as some new ones that have yet to be released.” Los Angeles resident Delilah Lanoix, noted. “All of the artists have given outstanding performances and seeing them live, is certainly more exciting than listening to a CD or hearing their songs on the radio.”

An artist who required little introduction when Sentinel executive editor Danny J. Bakewell, Jr. announced to the crowd to, “brace yourself for Black Moses”, referring to Hayes who was the final performer.

“Enjoy the food vendors that are serving some of the best soul food in Los Angeles, visit the many exhibitors who are offering everything you can imagine and brace yourselves for Black Moses who is on his way to the stage.” He said.

Hayes’ performance was nothing less than spectacular. Showing only limited signs of a reported stroke that he suffered some time ago, Hayes seated himself at his keyboard and proceeded to ‘take care of business.’

With an impressive complement of background vocalists, music impresarios and a flowing yellow linen costume, Hayes delivered all of the favorites from his top-selling “Hot Buttered Soul” album as well as original songs from his numerous theatrical soundtracks—including SHAFT, where he stood and directed the orchestral song.

To wrap-up this report of one of the most important Southern California entertainment events of the year, if not a lifetime, please accept my assertion that if you were not there you certainly missed one of the most exciting Black-entertainment extravaganzas of the summer.

This reporter was able to matriculate among the well-heeled patrons in the VIP section as well as their brothers and sisters enjoying the performances under shade trees well away from the stage. Regardless of where they were seated, everyone seemed to enjoy the Compton Summer Soul Jam in an environment that was filled with great good, fantastic music and free of any unpleasantness or ‘drama.’

From the happy faces and smiles, to the hundreds who were dancing throughout the venue, as the spirit moved them, this year’s event created a memory for the patrons that will last a lifetime.

Make sure that when the dates for the Compton Summer Soul Jam 2008 are announced you secure your tickets quick, fast and in a hurry. Do not allow yourself to be among those who mumble, “I could have, would have, or should have been there.