For the 11th annual Taste Of Soul (TOS), the Radio Free 102.3 KJLH stage did not disappoint. Since 2008, the station, which is owned by legendary musician Stevie Wonder has continuously added value to TOS with the perfect blend of all of the festival’s stages with its contemporary R&B performances, old school hits as well as a dash of Gospel music.
While the show doesn’t get started until the afternoon, the Taste of Soul nation is up early staking their claim on the front row seats at the KJLH stage. For those attendees who may not have had the opportunity to visit the Brenda Marsh Mitchell/McDonald’s Gospel Stage, the KJLH Radio Free Voices choir set the tone for the day when they blessed the crowd with their gifts.
Next up was R&B crooner MAJOR who lavished on the stage with his set which included his breakout hit, “Why I Love You”. MAJOR shared that for the past three years that he’s attended the festival, he’s dreamt of performing and this year he had the coveted opportunity to showcase his talents in front of thousands of people on the KJLH stage. When asked about the major way (no pun intended) his life has changed in the last year he said, “I’m so honored to have this opportunity to share with the community and give of my heart some music that I believe will stir up hope.”
As a loyal attendee since the inception of the festival, one of KJLH’s most lively on-air personalities, Adai Lamar, gave insight on how Taste of Soul has continued to evolve. “Who knew that eleven years later we would have more than 350,000 people here? Each year it gets bigger and better. KJLH couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the festival and to help get the word out about what’s going on in our community.” Lamar, who also serves as a producer for the Steve Harvey Morning Show, can be heard every morning from 6am-10am. She added, “Taste of Soul is a huge reunion where we celebrate family, love and happiness. If you missed it this year, where were you? Make sure you don’t miss the 12th annual Taste of Soul!”
Another unique aspect about the KJLH stage is the station’s ability to showcase rising talent that’s on the brink of superstardom. Following MAJOR’s TOS debut was Philadelphia native Guordan Banks. The 27-year-old singer/songwriter who’s penned hits for Keisha Cole and John Legend recently scored his first number one hit on the Billboard charts as a solo artist with the song, “Keep You in Mind.”
Later in the afternoon, on a full stomach from all of the delicious food that the festival has to offer, attendees enjoyed the smooth sounds of saxophonist Mike Phillips. Having previously performed for President’s Clinton and Obama, Phillips definitely had an impressive stage presence. He took the performance up a notch by leaving the stage and heading into the crowd to give attendees an up close and personal serenade. Now where else would that happen other than the Taste of Soul?
As the sun began to set on Crenshaw and Rodeo, 11-time Grammy Nominated singer/songwriter Jazmine Sullivan graced the stage and the crowd went wild. Dressed to kill in a little black dress, Sullivan took her fans on a journey throughout her decade long career beginning with the relationship anthems “Bust Your Windows”, “Lions Tigers and Bears”, “In Love With Another Man” as well as her first number hit from 2008, “Need You Bad” which was co-written and produced by Missy Elliott. In the midst of her busy schedule, we asked Sullivan if she had the opportunity to partake in the festival’s famous cruise. “When you get around all of these black people and they start cooking, you know there’s going to be great food, so I definitely need to eat something!”
On how she felt after her first TOS performance, Sullivan shared, “The energy was wonderful. I love coming to L.A. to perform, I don’t get to come out here often enough but today was great, I had a great time.”
Not only does TOS bring out notable artists, many of the communities most renown political activists including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Attorney General Kamala Harris were also onsite. When asked why it was imperative for her to be in attendance, Congresswoman Waters shared, “I love the atmosphere and the comraderie. This is the most significant event that we have for everyone to participate in every year. People not only come from L.A. but they come from far and wide to be apart of a real community event where the music is fantastic, the stars come out and all of the vendors are here with wonderful food; this is a cultural happening. I’m delighted to be here every year. To Danny Bakewell I say, you did it again!
Harris, who is currently vying to be California’s next Senator took to the KJLH stage to express the importance of the TOS nation exercising their right to vote on November 8. “Our vote is voice and our voice is our vote” she shared. On the reason why the festival is so essential to the community Harris said, “Taste Of Soul is my favorite time of year because it’s about all of us coming together to enjoy each other and enjoy community, fellowship and reconnect with our community in a way that’s about highlighting the best of who we are.
Then the sky seemed to turn purple with a tribute to the incomparable Prince who’s untimely passing in April 2016 shocked the world. But his legacy will continue to live on especially through hits like “Kiss” which put everyone in a great mood when the band got into the groove.
With the moon shining brightly and illuminating the stage, the multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning R&B group, 112 hit the stage with their headlining performance. Fresh off of the Bad Boy Reunion tour, 112 brought nearly two decades of hits to the KJLH stage. They kicked off their performance with “Dance With Me”. The group had the whole audience singing along with their 1998 hit “Cupid”. The finale performance definitely left the Taste of Soul Nation feeling nostalgic. With previous year’s headliners including Tyrese, Joe and now 112, we can’t wait to see how KJLH ups the ante in 2017!