Singer Melanie Fiona (courtesy photo)

Taste of Soul 2017 has gotten Bigger and Better!  The StarQuest stage which has always been a community favorite, featuring some of the best local talent, has now become one of the Premier stages at Taste of Soul.  Hyundai Motors has joined on to host the StarQuest Stage adding an All-Star Celebrity line-up to this year’s performances.  The celebrity line up includes R&B sensations Brandy and Melanie Fiona, rap legends Kool Moe Dee and Doug E. Fresh, DJ B-Hen, Candace Coles & The CJ Legacy Band and Raffia Ford.

The celebs will join StarQuest contestants, hoping for a shot at stardom.

“[Hyundai] is very pleased to be involved in Taste of Soul this year,” said Zafar Brooks, Hyundai’s director of corporate responsibility and diversity inclusion, in a recent interview with the Sentinel.

“Watching the work that [Danny] Bakewell Sr. has done has inspired me as an Angeleno. To watch him make this a better place for so many people, has inspired me while watching it from afar…”

Candace Cole (courtesy photo)

Brooks said that Hyundai had its first opportunity to actually engage in [Taste of Soul] last year.

“We had a booth and wanted to introduce Hyundai to the TOS community,” Brooks said.

“We had a great time and the day after we had a conversation with the TOS community about allowing us to come back and having a bigger role. We wanted the opportunity to sponsor the StarQuest stage. As a part of that experience, we’re going to do a number of things to introduce our brand to the community.”

Hyundai has created a contest working in conjunction with the Sentinel called Hyundai Better L.A. It asks Angelenos how they are making their community better.

“We’re inviting people to go to or they could do it from the Taste of Soul app,” Brooks explained.

Brian “DJ B-Hen” Henry

“When you go there you could click on the Hyundai contest and you could enter to win a new car… a brand new Hyundai Sonata SEL.”

Contestants should write a short explanation on how they are making L.A. a better place or upload a 60 second video.  The contest ends October 21 at midnight. Meanwhile Hyundai’s celebrity line-up promises to rival the other stages.

Singer and actress Brandy (courtesy photo)

Artist Brandy sold over six million copies worldwide, of her first album, and produced three top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including “I Wanna Be Down” and “Baby”, both of which reached the top of the Hot R&B Singles chart and were certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. “Brokenhearted”, a duet with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men, became a number-two hit on the charts. The album earned Norwood two Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance the following year, and won her four Soul Train Music Awards, two Billboard Awards, and the New York Children’s Choice Award. In 1995, she finished a two-month stint as the opening act on Boyz II Men’s national tour, and contributed songs to the soundtracks of the films Batman Forever and Waiting to Exhale, with the single “Sittin’ Up in My Room” becoming another top-two success. In 1996, Norwood also collaborated with Tamia, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight on the single “Missing You”, released from the soundtrack of the F. Gary Gray film Set It Off. The single won her a third Grammy nomination in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category.

Kool Moe Dee (courtesy photo)

Mohandas Dewese (born August 8, 1962), better known by his stage name Kool Moe Dee, was one of the first rappers to earn a Grammy Award and was the first rapper to perform at the Grammys. In 1986, he went solo, releasing a self-titled album that ranked 83 on Billboard.

Kool Moe Dee released his second album, ‘How Ya Like Me Now?’ which was his most successful album commercially, achieving platinum status. He then went on to release his third album, ‘Knowledge Is King’ in 1989, which went gold.

Doug E. Fresh (courtesy photo)

Doug E. Fresh, (born Douglas E. Davis) began his recording career as a solo artist, but rose to stardom when he and a new team of DJs known as the Get Fresh Crew (which included rapper Slick Rick) came to fledgling New Jersey-based Hip-Hop label Danya/Reality Records and recorded “The Show” and “La Di Da Di”, a tune that was completely voiced by MC Ricky D and backed by Doug E’s beat boxing for the entire duration of the song. Both songs are considered two of the all-time greatest early hip hop classics and, as such, make up one of the first and only Hip-Hop singles to have two hit songs on the same record.

StarQuest judges for the adult stage, hosted by Karla Gordy Bristol are: Cee Barrett – Associate Director, BMI; Malcolm David Kelly – actor, “Detroit”; DomiNque Perry – actress, “Insecure”; Cornelius Grant – former Motown executive; Brenda Holloway – legendary singer; Jane Eugene – singer, Loose Ends and Kenny Lattimore – singer, songwriter.

For the kids stage, which has not announced a host yet, judges are: Brenda Lee Eager – singer, songwriter; James Leach – Sr VP, SESAC; Iris Gordy – former Motown executive; Kerry Gordy – former Motown executive; Rory Pullens – Senior Executive Director of Arts Education, LAUSD and two more to be announced at a later time.