October 10, 2013
By Shonassee Shaver
LAWT Contributing Writer
Droves of contestants came out to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (Macy’s Bridge) to show what they had to offer for this year’s Taste of Soul.
The audition showcased a two day part competition that brought out adults on Friday and kids and young adults on Saturday.
The audition was filled with many talents but these performers stood out.
Audrey Chanel got the audition started performing to a 2 Chainz sample. The female group is named after Old Hollywood Movie Star Audrey Hepburn and Classic Fashion Designer Coco Chanel.
On why they choose the name, “both of them went through a lot of struggles in their life but they never let that get them down; they continued to strive and do what they were meant to do, that’s what we want to do, influence others, showcase our talent.
We got a taste of church with gospel performances.
Little man Jaden Neal blew the audience away when he sang. Out came a powerful voice from the youngster who stole the crowd as he earned a standing ovation. His brother Jacory Neal brought us to church as well with his paralleling voice. The brother duo stood out, “their talent is a gift from God,” said their proud grandmother.
Pint size beauty Miracle performed Mary Mary “Sunday Morning,” while another contestant followed with Mary Mary’s latest “Go Get It.”
Jasmine Sky who waited with her mother to perform stated she was ready to sing for the judges. When her turn came, she showed how equipped she was singing “Father Can You Hear Me.”
Prior to performing, contestant Kayla Curtis waited in line anticipating her audition. She performed the song, “I Love to Be in Your Presence.” She felt great about performing stating, “I feel God is doing this for a reason.” After her performance, she was joined with applause and a greeting by one of the judges.
Great performances continued as contestants covered classic songs.
Tiffany Harring gave her all to Etta James “At Last”; she did not disappoint delivering an impressive performance. On where she got her hearty voice from, “my dad’s family sings.”
A contestant did a rendition of Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror.”
Classics such as Whitney Houston “Greatest Love of All” and Mariah Carey “Vision of Love” were performed by Majesty, who worked the judges.
“I’ve been singing since I was a baby,” she said. The 16-year old has not only perfected her voice but her style, she has a stylist.
Contestants performed “Rolling on a River” and “It’s A Man’s World.”
Remix ended the show with an eclectic and edgy sound with an acapella of Boyz II Men.
StarQuest had an impressive celebrity judge panel, including Jalila Larsuel, a celebrity publicist for the stars who had her top 10 picks from the show. Happy about the community supporting its talent, she states “there were a couple of them that felt comfortable in their skin and it’s not all about the dancing routine, its showing how well you can carry a tune. One has to have an innate energy, make us feel what you’re saying.”
Larusel has a list of up-and-coming projects, which include “The Black Nativity” soundtrack and the film, which will be out November with Jennifer Hudson. Roland Martin’s talk show will debut next month and T.D. Jake’s talk show “Mind, Body and Soul” premiers this month. To contact Jalila Larsuel go to www.thefrontpagefirm.com or email her at
Actress Tisha French had some favorites of her own. She feels stage presence and confidence are key factors that make a great performer. “The difference between the have and have-nots is the ones who came to bring it versus the ones who are still in the development stages,” said French. Catch her on the Young and the Restless, films “The Purge and Bad Milo!” Look for her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Actor, choreographer and director Darrin Henson welcomed the crowd and encouraged the crowd to show love to all the contestants. Henson is the executive producer of new film “Frat Brothers.” Go to www.darrinhenson.com for more on the triple threat.
Other celebrity judges included finalist from the Voice, Jessie Campbell, who was impressed by the performers stated, “the fact, children are children, brings about its own originality.” For more on Campbell, go to JessieCampbell.com.
Fox11 Christine News anchor, Christine Devine, who was excited about the show gave notice to the polished performers and contestants with potential. Devine who has worked with young artists is familiar on how hard it is to be seen, “It takes a lot work, time and a little bit of God to make it.” She has a project called Team WC based on the concept of Wednesday’s Child consisting of foster children who have been adopted and are successful. One of her protégé is a hip hop artists who did a song, “Faith and Truth,” for National Adoption Month, which is on iTunes. For more information on Devine email her at
2012 Grand Prize winner, Adrian Battle came out to give a few words of encouragement. “It was an amazing experience performing in front of thousands of people.”
Solomon Gilstrap spoke about his own experience as a StarQuest Finalist.
The community of Los Angeles is in for a real treat October 19.