October 18, 2018 

City News Service 


Chaka Khan, a 10-time Grammy Award-winning R&B/soul artist, was named today as the grand marshal of 2019 Tournament of Roses.


Khan will lead the 130th Rose Parade, themed “The Melody of Life,” and participate in the pre-game celebration at the 105th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1.


“I’m so honored,” the 65-year-old singer said. “This is something so new and different for me.”


Speaking at a ceremony at Tournament House in Pasadena, Khan joked, “I just don’t know where to go with this.”


“To think that I would ever be a part of something like this, who knew?” she said. “I’m really honored. ... But I hope you like me. ... I’m thinking now about a rose hairpiece. Something purple.”


Turning to the seven young members of the Tournament of Roses Royal Court, she added, “At any rate, we’re doing to have fun, huh girls?”


Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny said Khan fits perfectly with the parade’s musical theme, noting that music touches the lives of people around the world.


“That’s the universal power of music,” he said. “On a personal scale, it gets us through our day, it accompanies us through good times and bad times. It is quite literally the soundtrack of our lives. But on a grand scale, it has the ability to heal, to unite, to promote change, to bring joy and harmony and rhythm and happiness. Music has a unique power to transcend borders and boundaries, to travel across countries and continents. It speaks to old and young. It represents, enriches and sustains our human existence. It quite simply touches every single life on Earth.”


A Chicago native whose grandmother infused her with a love of music, Khan created and R&B group when she was just 11 years old, the Crystalettes. She went on to perform with a series of other groups, most notably Rufus, which collaborated with Stevie Wonder to produce the hit “Tell Me Something Good” in 1974.


She released her first solo album in 1978, launching a career that has included hits such as “I Feel for You,” “Through the Fire” and “This is My Night.” She most recently took home Grammys in 2008 for best R&B album for “Funk This” and for her collaboration with Mary J. Blige on “Disrespectful.”

Category: Arts & Culture

October 18, 2018 

By Kimberlee Buck 

Contributing Writer




In 2009, Melanie Fiona released her debut single “Give It to Me Right” which became the staple R&B song for all women who were in relationships or leaving from a romantic relationship. Nine years later, Fiona is still producing some of the greatest R&B hits. However this time, she is sharing her music with 350,000 people on the Hyundai Soundstage during the 13th annual Taste of Soul Family Festival.


Fiona is not new to the Taste of Soul festival. In fact, she headlined the StarQuest stage last year which was sponsored by Hyundai. So what brings her back? The people, the food, and the cause.


“We’ll my wonderful relationship with friends at Hyundai reached out and asked me to be a part of [the Taste of Soul],” she said.


Fiona’s relationship with Hyundai dates back to 2015, when she was asked to be the celebrity hope ambassador for company’s organization Hope on Wheels, which focuses on research for childhood cancer.


“Also, living in L.A. and feeling like it is my new home away from home, it feels like the right thing to do for the community, to be there and support what’s happening in Los Angeles and support where you are from and just this beautiful gathering of music, food, and the community for a positive reason. The [Taste of Soul is] all things good and that’s all I really want to be doing with my time and my talent is really just putting it into efforts and any events that are doing positive things and effecting people’s lives for the better,” she said.


Fiona’s performance on the Hyundai Soundstage will show the evolution of her music and growth as an artist. Fans can expect to dance and sing-a-long to hits from her first two albums like “It Kills Me,” “4AM,” “Give it To Me Right,” “Fool For You” as well as new music from her third album. 


“It’s nice to be able to have a show that encompasses all the music that I have created from the beginning of my career and to know that people have been with me on that journey and that they are familiar with the songs. It makes it a lot more fun to get up there and have people singing-a-long with me,” said Fiona.


  Aside from performing at the Taste of Soul, Fiona is also looking forward to trying delicious new food.


“Just the food and all the different stands, places, people and the community that make delicious food and products with love and being able to support them,” she said. “Last year one of my band members brought me back a plate of food. I don’t even know what stand it came from but it was like a gift from God. I was just so happy with the mac and cheese and the greens. Wherever they came from, God bless the person who made it.”


Additionally, Fiona is also excited to be sharing the stage with other performers included in the Hyundai Soundstage lineup like: Teddy Riley, Blackstreet, Chante Moore, Kurtis Blow, and Ginuwine.


“I met a few of these people along the way but this is kind of a concert for me to because I grew up listening to some of these artists like Chante Moore and Ginuwine. Being a young girl, that was the R&B I grew up on so I think it’s kind of cool that we are blending the times of music that I make and also music that I grew up listening to and that also inspired me,” she said. “It is really an honor to be around people who are performing and have had such a long career. It is really inspiring to see that and its R&B music, like R&B music is the best!”


One thing fans may not know about Fiona that she shared with the LA Sentinel is the fact that she is great at jump roping.


“I grew up playing basketball, running track, and jumping rope, so I am a bit of a tomboy at heart and I think people can kind of see that from my style,” she said.


Although Fiona grew up playing sports she also developed a passion for being a singing nurse, a phrase that she uses in her philanthropic work.


“The singing nurse is something that I am kind of owning as my character and a part of who I want to be known as and known for,” said Fiona. “I really just want to be able to heal people through music and I think that that’s what the 4-year-old version of myself was identifying with. Music for me has always been this emotional and sentimental thing for me and now that I have become an artist and a performing artist, I have been able to see how the music that I sing and write, effects people in a positive way and brings people together.” 


Aside from being a singing nurse, Fiona also wanted to grow up to be like her mother and that dream came true when Fiona became a mother herself. Currently, Fiona is working on a multitude of projects which involves working on new music, posting content to her motherhood blog and interviewing influential people in her life on her YouTube series, “Living Awake.”


“I am just passionate about things that affect girls and women and so everything that I have been doing recently has been about that,” she said. “I recently led a women’s meditation and I led a guided meditation for young girls in New York recently as a part of my singing nurse philanthropic efforts. It’s about giving back and creating a space for women to feel safe and to connect with one another in a positive way.”


According to Fiona, the key to juggling work life and motherhood is all about balance.


“My only focus now, for whatever it is I am creating whether it’s music, content for being a mother, or a working artist, or just a women, anything that I lend my voice and my cause to has to be about healing people and really creating the conversation and vulnerability which I think leads to healing.”


Currently, Melanie Fiona is working on her album which is said to “touch the soul” which is exactly what her performance on the Hyundai Soundstage will do on Saturday, October 20. 

Category: Arts & Culture

October 18, 2018 

By Lauren Floyd 

Contributing Writer 


It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the release of Ginuwine’s “So Anxious.” The sensual slow jam embodies an era of R&B you can’t discuss without mentioning the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who says he’s bringing nothing but hits to the Hyundai Soundstage at the 13th annual Taste of Soul Family Festival.


“I’m a ‘90s and early 2000’s lover and musician so that’s where I want to stay,” says Ginuwine.


The artist prides himself in giving nothing less of a high-energy, entertaining show. From singing to dancing and acting, Ginuwine says when he’s on stage, he draws upon inspiration from his personal list of show-stoppers: Michael Jackson, Prince, MC Hammer, Paula Abdul and Patti Labelle are a few.


Although he’s hesitant to knock the new school of R&B, the seasoned singer says he’s sticking with the nineties.


“I’ll never hate on them, I’ll just say it’s not for me. The people that came out with me are still here and I’m focusing on the people who grew with me.”


After 22 years in the music industry, Ginuwine’s music - old and new - still reaches millennials and people younger than his debut solo-album “Ginuwine…the Bachelor” (1996).


“When I get on the stage and you have those youngsters out there watching, they always come backstage and say, ‘wow, we got to step up’. And that’s how you learn,” says Ginuwine who takes notes from R&B performers like Frankie Beverly, Teddy Riley, Charlie Wilson and Keith Sweat. “We do shows man, we do shows.”


When he’s not on stage, Ginuwine says he’s just like any normal dad.


“My life is a party, so when I’m home, I’m chilling,” says the 48-year-old father of nine who just celebrated a birthday this week.


“I just enjoy what I’m doing now and don’t take it for granted. I spend as much time with the kids as I possibly can and make memories because at the end of the day that’s all you have.”


Whether or not his children follow in his footsteps doesn’t press him much, but he says a few are definitely trying.


“It’s very easy now to get on because of social media and all that stuff but the point is how long are you going to last?” says the singer. “That’s what I try to drive in to them. I try to make them understand, yea you can be nice today, but they’ll hate you tomorrow. You don’t want to be flavor of the month.”


Longevity is everything to the musician who first began his music career in the group Swing Mob, a New York-based group founded by Jodeci’s Donald "DeVante Swing" DeGrate. Eight solo albums later, and the singer-songwriter isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon.


“I’ve been out twenty-two years and I’m like, where does the time go?” says Ginuwine.


For everyone who’s waiting for something new from the artist, he says he’s working on music with Tank and Teddy Riley. But be patient, he says he won’t release anything until he feels it’s at 110 percent.


“I’m taking it slow, and not rushing anything because one thing I always felt is that you don’t want to tarnish your legacy. Whatever you put out has to be as good or better than what you already have out,” he says.


As far as his performance at this weekend’s Taste of Soul:


“I’m looking forward to coming out there and giving a good show to the people.” He says he’s bringing nothing but hits, and doesn’t plan to leave anyone disappointed.


You can catch Ginuwine on the Hyundai Soundstage Saturday, Oct. 20. And to all the ladies, he says:


“Ladies wear your red, that’s my favorite color. I want to look out into a sea of red.”

Category: Arts & Culture

October 11, 2018 

LAWT News Service 


Nearly 2,000 jazz aficionados from all over Southern California enjoyed a day of incomparable music, food and networking opportunities at the 2018 Jazz at Drew concert on Saturday, October 6, 2018. The all-day outdoor festival took place on the campus of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) in South Los Angeles and featured exciting performances from the legendary S.O.S. Band, Miki Howard, SoCal favorite DW3, Latin jazz pioneer Pete Escovedo Orchestra, fusion trio Jazz Funk Soul featuring Jeff Lorber, Paul Jackson, Jr., and Everette Harp and The Crusaders – A Tribute featuring Joel Gaines, Reggie Young, Brian Price and Ronald Taylor. Platinum-award winning R&B group After 7 closed the show with an ultimate mix of their most popular tunes as well as popular contemporary music of the decade. 


Since its launch in 1991, Jazz at Drew has sought to alleviate the need for residents in South Los Angeles and surrounding areas to travel far for quality entertainment at affordable prices.  Equipped with superior artist line-ups and a unique concert experience, Jazz at Drew has demonstrated that local residents will support big-name entertainment when given the opportunity and venue to do so.


“We have two goals for Jazz at Drew:  First, as a fundraiser, it helps support CDU student scholarships, services and pipeline programs.  Second, as a concert, it provides South LA with a first-class entertainment event as part of our commitment to bring as many resources as we can to the community in which we live and work.  We are honored to have been able to bring quality entertainment at a great value to our community,” said CDU President Dr. David M. Carlisle.


Jazz at Drew was also well-attended by VIPs and elected officials known for dedicating their time in office to fighting for social justice in underserved neighborhoods in Los Angeles and around the country, such as L.A. County Supervisor Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas, Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), and Councilman Curren D. Price (9th District).


Tickets to Jazz at Drew not only secured customers a seat to the show, but also status as donors and supporters of CDU. Proceeds from Jazz at Drew go towards enriching the CDU experience for students by funding University scholarships and pipeline programs, including the renowned Saturday Science Academy II, which encourages South Los Angeles students to excel in math, science and technology.


The day’s festivities were emceed by popular radio hosts Talaya Trigueros of 94.7 The Wave and Bubba Jackson of 88.1 KJZZ.


Presenting for sponsor the event was Dignity Health.


Other sponsors included: Platinum: L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Cedars-Sinai, Gold: UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, Wells Fargo, Del Ray Party Rentals, The California Endowment, Silver: Comerica Bank and Blue Shield of California/Care First, Community sponsor: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and the Special Needs Network.

Category: Arts & Culture

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