October 18, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

LAWT Contributing Writer


The massive  ‘Taste of Soul’ African American celebration that’s “All About Community Love” is an epic experience of exquisite culinary dishes, world class entertainment and the meshing of cultures far and near, but at the root of this transforming event is the partnership and collaborative efforts of individuals and organizations who work cohesively before and after to make ‘Taste of Soul’ the success it has become.

These individuals don’t sing or dance on the various stages on display, they don’t cook or serve the mouth watering barbeque or fish you may eat, their names and performance are oblivious to the hundreds of thousands who cram onto Crenshaw Blvd.

However, they are the most significant of them all.  They are for the most part the real stars and heroes of ‘Taste of Soul’ and have been for the past six years, and this year will be no exception.

Before the hordes of people make it to their favorite vendor or stage, the Department of Public Works Street Maintenance Division will have already begun its work more than 24 hours before.

The Street Maintenance Division is one of the oldest divisions within the Bureau. They commit to the cleaning and maintenance of Crenshaw Blvd., routing traffic and closing locations, in addition to performing a range of other functions.

Hundreds of dedicated city of Los Angeles employees, including the Street Maintenance Division work in collaboration with The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), which is a multifaceted fire and life safety organization.

The LAFD provides ‘Taste of Soul’ with fire apparatus, and other specialty equipment and ensures the safety of the spectators at the event.

Safety is the top priority of ‘Taste of Soul’ organizers and throughout its history has been fortunate to have the services of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Nation of Islam working together to prevent crime and ensure a fun environment.

Under the guidance of Chief Charlie Beck the LAPD deploys units of officers to ‘Taste of Soul’ to extend the services of community policing where uniformed officers are out of their patrol cars and on foot walking and working hand in hand with the citizens of the city.

The LAPD is joined by the male-only paramilitary wing of the Nation of Islam (NOI) which is a unique display of unity for safety, the distinctive uniforms of the LAPD can been seen with the stylish and laser focused units of the Nation of Islam canvasing and protecting the patrons on Crenshaw Blvd. during the largest African American celebration in the history of Los Angeles.

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff of the city of Compton will also join the collaboration to work and respond to medical emergencies and transporting patients to the hospital as needed. 

The EMS maintains two Advanced Life Support (ALS) units that respond to life-threatening emergencies, and two Basic Life Support (BLS) that respond to non-life-threatening emergencies, and in situations where more hands and resources are needed, such as a heart attack or multiple-casualty incidents, the ALS and BLS units may assist each other on scene; or they may request assistance from an available engine company.

These dedicated public servants are the engines that drive ‘Taste of Soul’ to a destiny that some thought were not attainable.

It is because of them hundreds of small business receive their most significant economic boost during ‘Taste of Soul.’

It is because of them that businesses, large and small along the Crenshaw corridor experience the gold rush of ‘Taste of Soul’ business overflow.

There isn’t a stage large enough that could contain the love and appreciation that we have for them.

There isn’t a meal that is tasteful enough or filling enough that could demonstrate how much they mean to us.

So, as we munch or crunch, dance or sing in basking in the glory of an African American block party which embraces its neighbors, remember why it is what it is, and be thankful to our “Collaborative Partners of Love.”  After all they are how we got here!




Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

October 18, 2012

LAWT Wire Service 


Academy Award® nominated actress Viola Davis lent her voice to raise awareness about rape and the sexual abuse of children by hosting the annual brunch to benefit the Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center October 14, at Greenacres in Beverly Hills. The event honored American television icon writer and producer Norman Lear while spotlighting the RTC’s national leadership in advancing the care of rape victims and sexually abused children, establishing model prevention programs, advocating for victims’ rights, and changing the nation’s consciousness about rape.

RTC Director Gail Abarbanel welcomed Davis and Lear, along with Rape Foundation board members David Schwimmer and John Varvatos. Eric McCormack, Jayma Mays, Sophia Bush, KaDee Strickland, Jason Ritter, Jacqueline Emerson, Matt Lanter and Tamara Taylor were among the almost 800 guests in attendance.

Schwimmer opened the afternoon by introducing Davis, who addressed the crowd with a powerful and heartfelt speech praising the RTC for its work in the treatment and care of rape victims and sexually abused children. RTC Director Gail Abarbanel introduced the afternoon’s honoree Norman Lear who spoke about his commitment to the Center that began in 1977.  Clients of the RTC and Stuart House also spoke, sharing personal experiences with sexual assault and of finding hope and healing at the RTC.

Abarbanel spoke of Stuart House, the RTC’s internationally recognized model program for sexually abused children. Through this unique multi-agency program, the RTC provides comprehensive psychological, medical and advocacy services for child victims in a therapeutic environment designed to make children feel welcome and safe.  Stuart House is a public/private partnership that brings together in one facility police, prosecutors, and child protective services workers and child forensic interview specialists to facilitate investigations and prosecutions of child sexual abuse cases.

Davis’ work with the Rape Treatment Center arose from her portrayal of a rape victim counselor in the film “Trust,” directed by Schwimmer. Davis spent time at the center and collaborated with the staff in preparation for her role in the film.

Lear is a pioneering male voice advocating for victims of rape. His contributions began in 1977 when he created an unforgettable episode of All in the Family in which the beloved character, Edith Bunker, was confronted by a rapist. The Emmy Award-winning, one-hour special, “Edith’s 50th Birthday,” reached forty million people and forever changed the nation’s consciousness about rape.

Lear continues to stand up for rape victims, lending his voice and talents as a dedicated RTC board member. He has taken the stage at countless events to educate and raise money for RTC services and programs.  He also helped build Stuart House, the Rape Treatment Center’s model program for child victims. His guidance and example have been invaluable in changing discriminatory attitudes towards rape victims and has inspired other men to stand up.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

October 18, 2012


Associated Press


All the single ladies will be watching the upcoming Super Bowl along with football lovers — that’s because Beyoncé is the halftime show performer.

NFL confirmed the news Tuesday afternoon after Beyoncé posted a photo of herself sporting eye black, where “Feb. 3” is written on one and “2013” on the other, on her Tumblr page. The Super Bowl is set for Feb. 3, 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Super­dome in New Orleans.

Beyoncé, whose pop and R&B hits include “Crazy in Love,” “Irreplace­able” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” has won 16 Grammy Awards. The 31-year-old sang the national anthem at the 2004 Super Bowl in her hometown of Houston when the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers.

Madonna performed at halftime at this year’s Super Bowl in February with guests CeeLo Green, Nicki Minaj, LMFAO and M.I.A. The New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in a thrilling rematch of the contest four years earlier. Her performance was seen by 114 million people, a higher average than the game itself, which was seen by an estimated 111.3 million people, according to the Nielsen Co.

If Beyoncé’s performance at the Pepsi NFL Halftime Show features collaborations, it could likely include husband-rapper Jay-Z and her Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

New Orleans last hosted a Super Bowl in 2002, making next year’s game the first NFL championship in the city since Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the Louisiana Superdome in 2005. Pepsi is returning as the sponsor for the halftime show since doing so in 2007 when Prince performed.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

October 18, 2012


Your money instincts are itchy! Go ahead and scratch, because you’ve got the golden touch this week. Promise yourself that you’ll take at least one small step toward your dreams each day this week. You go! Soul Affirmation: I seek connection with the best that is in me.



A loved one may feel a bit neglected as you pursue your material dreams with vigor this week. Time set aside for this person after you’ve made some gains will prove to be extra sweet. Try not to push a mate’s understanding nature too far, though. Soul Affirmation: My needs will be met if I just ask.



Stay open-minded this week and you’ll actually feel the good vibrations! Co-workers will wonder at the smile on your face, but let it be your secret for now. Your smile itself will make others smile about their own lives! Soul Affirmation: I smile as I think about faraway places.



Big appetites this week! Indulge at least one of your passions and then get back to work. You are making incredible strides toward your dream by just reminding yourself of it. Drive carefully and pay attention to brake lights. Soul Affirmation: Smooth communications is the key to my success this week.



Relax a bit and review your “things to do” list”. Move methodically, and check off each item as you complete them. You’ll be surprised by the progress you are making. Spend the afternoon with family, and friends. Soul Affirmation: This week family is the source of my joy.



Your best self is on parade this week, and wow! You look good! Co-workers will beat a path to your cubicle, so be prepared to turn chatterboxes away gently. Give your honey a phone call or send a loving email. Soul Affirmation: I open myself up to the vibrations of love.



This week’s a good week to approach that person you’ve been wondering about. While you’ve been working very hard, you need to play, too. Good playmates make work seem more rewarding to you. Soul Affirmation: I master life by mastering myself.



Can you take a week off from work? It’s a perfect week to relax with a loved one in one of your favorite ways. Even if you can only spend a few hours decompressing you’ll be surprised at how little it takes to feel bliss this week. Soul Affirmation: I let the outer world and inner world change places this week



Vibrations this week make everyone feel as if the universe has given them another chance. Your fresh start may come in a romantic area. Buy a bouquet of flowers for your partner on your way home from work. See what happens. Soul Affirmation: I celebrate freedom of mind this week.



A short trip for business reasons gives you a little personal space to make some notes to yourself. Remember your best self, and keep a positive outlook. Buy a lottery ticket this week at your destination, or watch for some other type of “found” money. Soul Affirmation: I judge no one, especially myself this week.



Your home may need some of your attention. This is a fine week to check the fire alarm battery, put away gardening equipment, or redecorate your dining area. The results of a shopping trip for new bed linens will please you very much. Soul Affirmation: I keep my smile shining, especially at home.



Spend some time in the company of friends early in the week, then spend your afternoon relaxing. Your ability to tune out and mediate on the goodness that surrounds is comes easy. Let the good vibrations massage you with bliss. Soul Affirmation: I let positive emotions carry me through the week.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

October 18, 2012

The StarQuest Singing Compe­tition, a Bakewell Media Production, held auditions last Thursday at the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Plaza, to find our community’s next singing sensation.   Hundreds of contestants gathered to compete onstage at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, vying for the chance to sing before thousands at the Taste of Soul Family Festival.  Among an array of talented artists, semi-finalists were chosen to perform at the Taste of Soul on Saturday, October 20 from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.  

The hopefuls nervously assembled before the sizeable crowd of mall patrons as they waited to take center stage.  For many, the stage symbolized more than an opportunity to compete American Idol style in front of judges, executive producer, Tony Cornelius (son of  Don Cornelius, the legendary Soul Train Creator), Yvette Bailey (former Soul Train Producer), talent executive, Rayva Harrell, (Nickel­odeon’s All That, The Steve Harvey Morning Show), Brandon I. Brooks (co-managing editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel the Watts Times) and Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. (creator and executive producer of StarQuest and Taste of Soul, chairman of Bakewell Media and executive publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Sentinel and the Watts Times).  The quest for stardom would not be complete without the presence of actual stars. Celebrity guest judges including Kel Mitchell, Nickelodeon’s Kenan And Kel, Jazz Raycole from the Soul Man TV Series and Marilyn Batchelor, Universal Records executive, made an appearance.   The competition represented an opportunity that could be potentially life-changing.

“My Mom heard about [the competition] on the radio and called me,” said Shandrella Rayford. “She told me this could be it; this could be my chance, so I showed up!”

One 12 year old in particular moved the room with his velvety smooth voice. Convinced that he has what it takes to be the winner, Solomon shared what he thought made him the best in the room.

“I’m going to win because I’m amazing and I know I can sing,” the 12 year old boasted.

StarQuest semi-finalists selected to perform at the Taste of Soul on the StarQuest Stage are:  Adrian Battle, Beau Williams, Britt J, Carla Bagnerise, Cherose, Corinna Brown, Duprice, Goward Horton, Herman Chamblee, Jacnique, Kyra Smith, LaMarr “Deuce” Lubin, Lloyd Perodin, Mabvuto, Mo-Que, Phallon Brown, Ria Borman, Rory Darvel, Solomon, Tanek Montgomery, Tarsha Rodgers, Tommie Rae Powell, Rashondra Angelle and Pamela Bellamy-Franklin.

From the list of semi-finalists, two will be selected.  One finalist will perform on the Radio Free KJLH (102.3 FM) stage and the other on The Wave (94.7 FM) stage. They will perform in front of an expected crowd of 250,000 people.

The StarQuest guest performers will be the House of Vibe All Star Band, Dijon Talton, Megan Moret, Sahiba, SledgeGrits and Yours Truly.

StarQuest celebrity hosts will be Kim Whitley (NBC’s Animal Practice), Joe Torry (Def Comedy Jam, House Party, Poetic Justice, Hall of Fame), Ray J (The Rickey Smiley Show, Recording Artist, For the Love of Ray J TV Show), Wesley Jonathan (The Soul Man, City Guys, What I Like About You), Kyle Massey (Dancin w/the Stars, Disney, That’s So Raven), Christine Devine (Fox News, Wednesday’s Child), Ernest Thomas (Rog on “What’s Happenin” Everybody Hates Chris, Malcolm X), Jazz Raycole (The Soul Man, The Nina Simone Story) and Kel Mitchell (Back House Party, Good Burger, Kenan and Kel Show).

In the true spirit of entertainment and community involvement, the quest for our city’s finest stars is underway on the StarQuest Stage.

We look forward to seeing you, your friends and family at the StarQuest Stage at the Taste of Soul on October 20 from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. 

Photo by  Troy Tieuel

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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