Los Angeles is a mecca for music – especially soulful music. The inaugural Soul Music Festival, attracting a daily 6,000-plus audience – combined the qualities that best describes the Southern California vibe – summertime sunshine, music to make you groove, and a diverse crowd.
For 3 days, music lovers from across the southland gathered at the Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park. “The experience was unforgettable,” said Reality Star and Celebrity Hairstylist Terry Hunt from WEtv L.A. Hair seasons 1-4. “I ran into so many people I know and, as a singer, I appreciate the quality line up of entertainers, especially my good friend Rahsaan Patterson who set the soulful tone.”
The audience was entertained by Grammy nominees and award-winning artists (in order of appearance), Friday – July 22: Rahsaan Patterson; Eric Roberson; Melanie Fiona; Lalah Hathaway; and Eric Benet. Saturday – July 23: Goapele; Loose Ends featuring Jane Eugene; Vivian Green; Angie Stone; and Joe (aka Joe Thomas). Sunday – July 24: Conya Doss; Avery Sunshine; Lyfe Jennings; Marsha Ambrosius; and Jazmine Sullivan.
“Music is one of the few gifts we enjoy in life that has the ability to connect millions of people to the same rhythmic pulse, a similar shared experience, a sympathetic burst of emotion, and an invigorated consciousness,” said Mark Douglas, CEO of Airborne Tickets and the creator of the Los Angeles Soul Music Festival. “A great song does that. A great artist does that – repeatedly. Through the music and these events, we seek to share experiences that are genuine, authentic and inspiring.”
During the show, many of the artists paid tribute to Prince. Stone, remembering Prince, Natalie Cole and Maurice White, sang, “Inseparable” by Cole; “When Doves Cry” by Prince; and “Can’t Hide Love” by Earth, Wind, & Fire. Stone’s hit “Brotha,” caused tears when she dedicated it to our fallen brothers and thousands lit their lighters and held them high in the air in tribute. #BlackLivesMatter hung heavy in the air and was a common thread throughout the weekend performances.
The male artists were sexy and strong but it was the ladies who caused the women to lower their walls and relate as mothers, aunts, sisters, friends, to the same trial and tribulations experienced by the female artists who graced the stage.
New mom Melanie Fiona, taking a line from 2016 BET Humanitarian Award Winner Jesse Williams, reminded the attendees that, “Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we are not real.” Fiona followed up by singing “Break Down These Walls.” The message in her lyrics, “Love has no fear, please take down your walls,” touched a chord throughout the crowd as they sang along with their eyes closed.
Platinum-selling artist Ambrosius, expecting a baby girl, proved that pregnancy agrees with her. Radiant in a red, flowing dress, she was very playful with her fans and showed a fun personality when she sang her single, “Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player).”
The show closed with a powerful performance by Jazmine Sullivan who earned Billboard’s Rising Star Award before she took a hiatus from the music world. Coming back in 2015, her fans wholeheartedly supported her latest projects. Among her playlist, she sang, “Mascara,” and “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa),” leaving the stage with fans relating to the lyrics, shouting testimonials of their own heartbreak, and the importance to find self-love and empowerment.
“Every part of me is a vision of a portrait, Of Mona, of Mona Lisa, Every part of me is beautiful, And I finally see I’m a work of art, A masterpiece.” – Sullivan.
The first Los Angeles Soul Music Festival gave the audience a taste of how impactful music can pierce your soul and make you dig deep into emotions. Bravo.