What started in 2005 was a vision of a community united in love, peace and brotherhood—it was Taste of Soul. Danny Bakewell Sr. and the late Brenda Marsh-Mitchell along with city officials, community partners and friends created an idea that has grown into something special. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of Taste of Soul upholding that vision and establishing itself as the largest family festival in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 17.
Crenshaw Blvd comes to life with a variety of vendors from all over Southern California, world renowned entertainment and a community that loves and respects each other. Over the past 10 years, TOS has remained one of the most peaceful festivals in South L.A. with the positive presence of law enforcement, the Nation of Islam and emergency units such as Explorer One Ambulance.
Over the years, the festival’s fans, affectionately dubbed TOS Nation, have come to sample food from vendors from local restaurants, eateries and bakeries. Returning TOS vendors include Harold & Belles, The Kobbler King and Mee Ma’s Gumbo Bricks. Other vendors include BBQ Smokehouse, Fighting Fish Co., Gwen’s Specialty Cakes and Try My T. It’s sure to be a foodie’s paradise as just about every kind of cuisine will be at the festival. TOS is more than food however, as there will be non-food vendors such as ordained minister and author John Watts with his book the “Missing Years of Baby Jesus” and teacher and author Latrice Slaughter with her book “I Love Me: Building Self-Esteem in Children.”
TOS always has the best in entertainment thanks to wonderful partners such as Radio Free KJLH and 94.7 The Wave. This year will be no different. Both stages will be featuring longtime R&B and funk favorites. KJLH-Buffalo Wild Wings Stage will see the return of TOS Celebrity Alum Angie Stone, who performed at Taste of Soul in 2007. Other artists featured on the stage this year include Monica, Joe and Mint Condition. The 94.7 WAVE Stage welcomes back TOS Celebrity Alums DW3, and will also welcome the sounds of Jon B., Lakeside and Zapp.
The Brenda Marsh- Mitchell Gospel Stage returns honoring the memory of the longtime president of TOS, who passed away in August of 2014. This year the Gospel Stage welcomes McDonalds as a sponsor bringing the Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, which will include gospel artist Yolanda Adams, music director and songwriter Donald Lawrence and Dorinda Clark-Cole . Being one of the co-founders, the late Marsh-Mitchell also designed and managed the gospel stage at every TOS and arranged for appearances by both local and national artists.
In 2012, StarQuest debuted at the 7th Annual TOS Festival, a creation of the Los Angeles Sentinel and Bakewell Media and has become a staple in showcasing local talent. The first StarQuest resulted in 12 semi-finalists, who were chosen to perform on the StarQuest stage during the TOS festival. In 2013, StarQuest added a kids’ competition to give youth a chance at stardom. The StarQuest 4 Kids competition features youth ages 5-17 in addition to the adult competition. In 2014, Mothership was the winner of the adult competition and Tim Jr. won the kids competition. As a result, StarQuest winners have been put on a path of success. Many are performing at multiple venues and some have already released music. Tim Jr. can be seen singing to the recent Apple Watch Ad commercial.
TOS has utilized social media with an impressive turnout on Facebook where posts, pictures, shares, likes, tags, etc. were viewed 3.1 million times by 1.2 million people in the month of October 2014. Over the years, vendors, businesses and mom-and-pop shops have become a part of TOS nation. TOS’ broad appeal allows for Black businesses to come face-to-face with their consumers and new customers. Corporate sponsors have been lured back over and over again by the sheer over powering numbers of individuals with whom they could not reach otherwise.
This year TOS will launch the Taste of Beauty Pavilion featuring the beauty industry’s top stylists and educators including Neeko, Kim Kimble, DaRico Jackson, Patric Bradley and 729 BEaUty. The Taste of Beauty Pavilion will offer live demonstrations and showcase an array of the latest hair care systems and products. Celebrating over 40 years in business, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry White of Kizure will be honored at this year’s festival.
TOS’ partners and sponsors are valued contributors and have helped make the festival a 10-year success. Some of those sponsors include: AT&T, South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Bank of America, California Endowment, Charles R. Drew University, JPMorgan Chase Co., Comerica, County of Los Angeles, Easy Choice Health Plan (HMO), Fox Audience Strategy, Buick, L.A. City Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Metro, Metropolitan Water District, Nestle Waters, Nielsen, California Resources Corporation, SEIU Local 2015, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, US Bank, Verizon Foundation, Walmart, Walsh/Shea, Watts Healthcare and Wells Fargo. TOS partners include: Radio Free 102.3 KJLH and 94.7 The Wave, CBS2-TV, Brotherhood Crusade, Metro, Ivie, McNeill and Wyatt, CHP, LAPD and AAUC.
TOS would like to thanks this year’s chairs and co-chairs for their participation and support. Chairs this year are Mayor Eric Garcetti, Council President, Herb Wesson, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Co-chairs include Congressmember Karen Bass, Senator Isadore Hall, III, Councilmember Curren Price, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Assemblymember Autumn Burke, LAUSD District 1: Dr. George McKenna, KCBS-Channel 2, Pat Harvey and law firm Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt.
Metro makes sure transportation via the Metro Expo/Crenshaw light-rail station is available to those who wish to come to the festival every year. The Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line project continues making its way down Crenshaw Blvd. but will once again cease thanks to Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors for TOS 10th Anniversary.
For more information, visit www.tasteofsoulla.org. Don’t forget to download the Taste of Soul App which can also be found on the Taste of Soul website. Please visit and like Taste of Soul on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to download the Taste of Soul mobile App for the up-to-date information, prizes, giveaways, vendor locations, food and entertainment throughout the day.