Thursday, February 2, 2023
The Hyundai Taste of Soul Experience is All About Togetherness
By Lauren Floyd, Staff Writer
Published August 22, 2019

Hyundai returns to this year’s festivities even bigger than last year

Zafar Brooks, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Diversity & Inclusion for Hyundai Motors America. (Courtesy Photo).

It’s been four years since Hyundai first became a sponsor for Bakewell Media’s Taste of Soul Festival and this year, they’re returning with the Hyundai “We Are One” Experience at Taste of Soul 2019.

Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and of Diversity & Inclusion for Hyundai Motor America, Zafar Brooks, says that working and connecting directly with the community during events like Taste of Soul creates a large impact. Having such a rich history as an Asian car company, Brooks says Hyundai’s partnership with Taste of Soul was just right.

“We believe that by demonstrating Hyundai as a brand that is committed to the communities in which it works and does business, that we can make an impact in society and make an impact on the lives of many,” says Brooks.


“We have the right partner in Hyundai and Hyundai has a great leader in Zafar Brooks. Zafar’s professionalism, commitment to the community and his commitment to Hyundai is evident by the amazing job he does in partnering with Taste of Soul and making sure the community knows that Hyundai cares about them,” says Bakewell Media CEO Danny J. Bakewell, Sr.

Bakewell Media CEO Danny Bakewell, Sr. with Zafar Brooks Hyundai America’s Director of Corporate responsibility and Diversity & Inclusion, pose with the Taste of Soul audience.

Over the years, Hyundai’s relationship with Taste of Soul and Bakewell Media has grown exponentially. Initially, when the Hyundai team joined as a sponsor, their first year at the festival was all about community engagement. They brought out products and information to share at their tent. The following year, Hyundai joined forces with the Taste of Soul Starquest competition and stage as a sponsor, and then the following year, Hyundai brought the heat with the Hyundai Soundstage which included big headliners like Teddy Riley, Chante Moore, Kurtis Blow and Ginuwine.

“Bringing in some A-list talent down on Crenshaw Blvd., showing the best of our community and connecting with the African American community is top value and priority for us at Hyundai. We’re really proud to do it, and we have a really great time,” says Brooks.

As director of corporate social responsibility and diversity & inclusion for Hyundai, Brooks says the company works with organizations, like the LA Sentinel and Taste of Soul, that are consistent with its own values.

“The way we are keeping our commitment to diversity and inclusion is that we are reaching out to organizations and communities and being a good partner – working side by side on issues that are consistent with our brand values and consistent with the needs of the community,” Brooks says.

(L-R) William Norwood, Danny Bakewell, Sr., Brandy Norwood and Zafar Brooks.

In its commitment to diversity and inclusion, Brooks says Hyundai works under four platforms – arts, education, children’s health & safety, and community partnerships. Through Hyundai’s relationship with Bakewell Media and Taste of Soul, Hyundai was able to connect with four additional community groups including American Grace Conservatory, led by actress Wendy Raquel-Robinson, who later applied for and received a larger two-year arts grant from Hyundai for $125,000. This grant will aid in arts education for the children at American Grace Conservatory and Brooks says he’s grateful for the connections made through Bakewell Media, the Los Angeles Sentinel and Taste of Soul.

“It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the Bakewell Media enterprise,” says Brooks. “14 years later, 350,000 people later, and we’re all out there to have a good time, party and have some fun but remembering that we are one— one community and one family —and together we can achieve our common goals and common dreams.”

Hyundai donated a 2019 Santa Fe to the Taste of Soul and LA Sentinel office staff. (Photo Lauren Floyd/ LA Sentinel)

In fact, Hyundai and Taste of Soul together have made the dreams of festival goers come true with a brand-new car. Most recently at last year’s festival, Hyundai partnered with Taste of Soul and gave away a 2019 Hyundai Kona apart of the Hyundai and Taste of Soul “Reimagine Everything” competition.

Hyundai continues to bring fun and entertainment to Taste of Soul and this year, they are coming with a new theme – “We Are One.”


We Are One is an affirmative, positive call to action that says we are one community. When we are together, we can get a lot more done,” says Brooks.

The Hyundai Experience at Taste of Soul keeps elevating not only with a new theme, but a new location. “We are going to bring the heat this year,” says Brooks. The Hyundai stage will now be even bigger and better at King & Crenshaw instead of its previous location off of 39th. This move results in a, “much bigger space for a much bigger experience,” Brooks says.

Brooks and the Hyundai team are not spilling the beans on all the big names they have coming to Taste of Soul 2019 just yet, but so far, they’ve announced the new “Hyundai Live Stage” in addition to the Hyundai Soundstage. It will be a second stage with popular LA-based, DJ Malski and will be hosted by rap legend Doug E. Fresh who is also set to perform on the Hyundai Soundstage. Brooks also says that Hyundai is adding an outdoor dancefloor this year – something sure to keep the energy high all day.

In addition to the entertainment, Hyundai is bringing its consumer experience to Taste of Soul with demonstrations of its new SUV fleet, like the new Hyundai Santa Fe which was donated to the Los Angeles Sentinel and Taste of Soul team by Hyundai this summer.

“There’s lots and lots to come, that’s just a little sneak peek of it. We hope to make the corner of Crenshaw and MLK where all the action is going to be happening,” says Brooks.

Taste of Soul 2019 is Saturday October 19, 2019. For more information, visit and and stay up to date on all Taste of Soul news, by downloading the Taste of Soul app and by following @TasteofSoulLA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: A Taste of Soul | Business | Crenshaw & Around | Family | Lifestyle | Local | News (Business) | News (Family)
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