Taste of Soul

L.A.’s Largest Block Party to Feature Grammy Awarding Smooth Jazz Artist Norman Brown, BeBe Winans, Sounds of Blackness, and Eric Benet

Now in its 4th year, the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper, the largest and most widely read Black newspaper west of the Mississippi River, will once again keep it crackin’ on Crenshaw Boulevard with its ‘Taste of Soul’ festival billed as L.A.’s largest block party having attracted a record 105,000 attendees in 2008.

Founded in 2006 by Sentinel executive publisher Danny J. Bakewell Sr., who wanted to bring the Black community together for a day of family funfilled entertainment, the Taste of Soul will once again offer Southern Californians the best in entertainment and soul food cuisine. 2009 sees the Taste of Soul Festival anticipating well over 100,000 attendees as evident from its website www.tasteofsoulla.com which has been viewed over 100,000 times in the past week.

Besides offering an unmatched selection of the best in soul food cuisine, including Harold and Belles, Uncle Darrows, and Shabazz Fish, this year’s festival goers will be styling and profiling to the smooth sounds of Grammy Award winning jazz recording artist Norman Brown who is set to headline the 94.7 FM The Wave stage at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Not to be out done, Radio Free 102.3 FM KJLH is keeping the party live on Crenshaw at Rodeo Boulevard with special celebrity guest host Grammy nominated R&B singer Eric Benet and gospel vocalist, writer, and producer, BeBe Winans.

Still free and in the community, the 4th Annual Taste of Soul continues its tradition of being a collaboration between the Los Angeles Sentinel, 94.7 FM The Wave, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH with support from the City of Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Councilmembers Bernard Parks (8th District), Jan Perry (9th District), Herb Wesson (10th District).

“The collaboration is key,” notes Taste of Soul producer Brenda Marsh- Mitchell. “Without support from our corporate and government partners this
couldn’t happen.”

With an economy in shambles and unemployment at an all time high, many in the community see the Taste of Soul as an opportunity to leave their worries behind for one day and come out and experience world-class live entertainment for free. It’s also an opportunity to network as the Taste of Soul will once again feature a mile of business and community vendors offering discounted and free services to participants, including a health pavilion where festival goers can have their eyes checked, get flu shots, and get tested for HIV.

“The Taste of Soul is for you,” states its founder Danny J. Bakewell Sr. “This festival is for the community and by the community and has been from its inception in 2006. It’s a dream realized now four years in a row to see Crenshaw Boulevard packed from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Rodeo Boulevard with every kind of shade of Black in all shapes and sizes. Nothing compares to standing on stage and looking out at your people smiling, happy, and carefree together in that one moment. That’s why we do it.”

With the support of its corporate partners, including Disney, FOX 11, MY 13, and more, the Taste of Soul has grown exponentially in size, from 50,000 attendees in 2006 to over 105,000 in 2008, and is now one of the most anticipated events in Southern California.

That number is sure to grow with the announcement of 94.7 FM The Wave’s headlining artist Grammy® Award winning smooth jazz artist Norman Brown. The guitarist, singer, and songwriter recently released Stay With Me, his very first album for the Peak Records label and will be performing from this breezy, warm collection of 10 original tunes for festival goers. Norman Brown is known for his tasty grooves, ear-caressing melodies, and delicious contemporary guitar licks that manage to evoke the spirit of the classic jazz guitar giants who first inspired him. Among the other artists joining Norman Brown on the 94.7 FM The Wave stage located at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be Ray Fuller, Eric Darius, Gail Johnson, Alana, and the Sai Whatt Band.

At the other end of the Crenshaw Boulevard at Rodeo Boulevard will be the Radio Free 102.3 FM KJLH stage which is set to be hosted by Grammy® nominated R&B artist Eric Benet and will be headlined by inspirational, R&B and gospel vocalist, writer, and producer, BeBe Winans. Other artists to be featured include Sounds of Blackness, Lenny Williams, and several local church choirs blessing the microphones with the kind of soul filled gospel that festival goers look forward to year after year.

Lining Crenshaw Boulevard on both sides of the street from one stage to the other will be hundreds of food, business, and community vendors all looking forward to greeting Taste of Soul festival goers. After the cancellation of this year’s African Marketplace and Cultural Faire, many local vendors have found opportunities to connect with the community far and few between.

The Taste of Soul offers them the unique opportunity to market their products and services directly to the consumer.

“The Taste of Soul is more than just a festival just like the Sentinel is more than a newspaper,” explains Los Angeles Sentinel executive editor Danny J. Bakewell Jr. “It’s an opportunity to network, a chance to make things happen and build bridges in our community. For our Black businesses it’s a lifeline
in a tough economy.”

This years festival features support from a wide range of individuals and corporate partners including: 94.7 The Wave, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH, The City of Los Angeles, Mother In Action, California Assembly Speaker pro Temopre Isadore Hall III, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Councilmember Bernard Parks Sr., 8th District, Los Angeles Councilmember Jan Perry, 9th District, Los Angeles Councilmember Herb J. Wesson Jr., 10th District, L.A.U.S.D. Board Member, District 1, Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, Arbitron, The Beverly Hilton, The Brotherhood Crusade, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Budweiser, California Financial Services of America (CFSA), Department of Cultural Affairs, Disney, Farmers Insurance, FOX 11/My 13, The Gas Company, Get Connected, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Health African American Families, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Los Angeles, L.A. Care, L.A. County Arts Commission, Mc Donald’s, Metro PCS, MoneyGram, Sheraton Universal Hotel, The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites Los Angeles, and the Wilshire Grand Los Angeles Hotel.

Log onto www.tasteofsoulla.com, ground zero for all things Taste of Soul and listen to Radio Free 102.3 KJLH and the 94.7 The Wave.

My 2008 Taste of Soul Photo Album

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