Johnny Gill listens to the audience calling his name. (TOS photographer)

History was made amid the 18th Annual Taste of Soul. Legendary singer, and songwriter, Johnny Gill, was the recipient of the first annual “Cultural Icon” award from Stevie Wonder on the Radio Free KJLH Stage and received a proclamation for his “outstanding contributions to the world of music” from Councilmember Heather Hutt.

For over 40 years, Gill’s sultry voice has captivated audiences as a member of New Edition and LSG as well as a solo artist with hits such as “My, My, My,” “There You Go,” and “Rub You The Right Way.”

Stevie wonder sang some of his greatest hits. (TOS photographer)

Living legend and musical icon Stevie Wonder spoke exclusively with the Sentinel where he explained why Johnny Gill was the most befitting of the title, “Cultural Icon.”

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“He’s consistently been with us through Taste of Souls and House Full of Toys. Every single event whether it be a benefit or a celebration of music, Johnny’s always been there. He’s been a great friend of the station, of the community, and to the world so we celebrate him,”  said Wonder.

October London (TOS photographer)

In response to receiving the award, Gill – a two-time Grammy nominee, two-time Soul Train Award winner, and multi-platinum recording artist – shared, “I’m beyond honored, humbled and grateful. It’s one thing when you’re receiving different accolades over 40 years of doing this, but from KJLH, with the connection to my brother Stevie [Wonder], this is different.”

Gill added, “Stevie is my brother. I grew up idolizing him as a kid and then to one day find yourself meeting him and then becoming family, to me that’s the greatest reward that I could ever get from anyone and anywhere.

MAJOR (TOS photographer)

“We all know that there are so many people in this business that are all well deserving that Stevie could have chosen from, so to be called on, I’m grateful,” concluded Gill.

With 10 weeks at number one on the Billboard Adult R&B Airplay chart for his song, “Back To Your Place,” crooner October London was also a fitting choice to perform. Sharing his excitement about being a first-time TOS performer, the Indiana native and Death Row Records recording artist said,“I heard so much about Taste of Soul and the love of music that people have here and of course when big brother Stevie Wonder reached out, so of course I had to show up.”

London shared exclusively with the Sentinel that he’s working on new music for Wonder’s forthcoming album.

Gill with Tammi Mac and Guy Black of KJLH. (Zon D’Amour/L.A. Sentinel)

Singer MAJOR also graced the KJLH stage for the third time in his career. He told the Sentinel that KJLH was the first radio station to play his Grammy-nominated song, “This Is Why I Love You.”

“KJLH was the first station to show me consistent love. So when I was invited to be a part of this, I said, ‘absolutely’. I’m honored and I’m grateful for every single person in the

KJLH family,” the artist said.

In addition to Stevie Wonder, another name synonymous with KJLH is Tammi Mac. The veteran radio personality has been with the station for sixteen years. She and her co-host of “The Tammi Mac Show,” Emmitt McGee III, kept the crowds engaged and excited throughout the day. The duo shared what Taste of Soul means to them.

Gill accept a proclamation from Councilwoman Heather Hutt and KJLH’s Aundrae Russell. (TOS photographer)

“Taste of Soul is the quintessential community of LA,” said Mac. “This is where you come every year to feel like family, unity, and in the words of Maze, ‘We are one.’ It’s a beautiful event and it’s always about love, life, music, and food. You’ve never truly lived in Los Angeles if you haven’t been to Taste of Soul.”

Echoing similar sentiments and in his fourth year at KJLH, McGee shared, “To be on stage with KJLH is incredible. It’s a marquee station in Los Angeles. This is where it is for Black folks from my grandparents’ generation to mine. So, to be a part of Taste of Soul and to be on the KJLH stage is timeless.”

When asked what Bakewell Media, the creators of Taste of Soul, means to Mac she said, “Bakewell Media is everything to the Black community because it’s the one place where you can go to get the truth about who we are and get positive words about what we are and read stories that mainstream media never touches. Without Bakewell Media putting those stories out front, we wouldn’t know all of the things going on in our community, so thank you Danny Bakewell Sr.”