September 19, 2013
By Nicole Williams
LAWT Contributing Writer
For the hundreds of thousands who have experienced Taste of Soul, the familiar sounds of the Radio Free 102.3 KJLH Stage is one that has become as much a staple of the event as the vendors that spice up Crenshaw Blvd.
In fact, you may have seen the crowds start to gather, making sure they have a spot close to the front of the stage. What awaits the audience is a show that most don’t ever forget.
KJLH 102.3 Radio Free will be back at Taste of Soul for their 6th year as a radio partner. They’re in charge of bringing some of the music and entertainment to the largest street family festival in Los Angeles. It’s almost like the concert of a lifetime to give the community their delightful partake in what KJLH has to offer.
Radio Free 102.3 KJLH’s Vice President and General Manager, Karen Slade has been apart of the radio station for over 20 years. She says that KJLH is “very much a family operation,” who serves its community.
“We are to serve as well as to entertain. We are to uplift and inform, but keep it energetic and positive,” Slade said.
The radio station brings a lot of that energy and positivity to Taste of Soul. They are responsible for brining a lot of different forms of entertainment such as comedy, spoken word, gospel, hip-hop, jazz and R&B. They have brought lots of artists on their stage for Taste of Soul over the years such as Queen Latifah, Dougie Fresh, Stevie Wonder, Eric Benet, El DeBarge and Wayne Brady just to name a few. Both Slade and General Sales Manager, Edward Evans say that the process of getting these artists to Taste of Soul is something that comes from artists knowing the popularity and importance of Taste of Soul.
“We have to give credit where credit’s due. A lot of the talent volunteers because it’s a community event. For the most part it’s a free event, so they’re donating their talent and their time. So in that case, we like to highlight them and celebrate them,” Slade said.
They also say that the nature of Taste of Soul, truly captivates artists and they enjoy “giving back” to the community.
“Everybody can’t afford to go to a concert. And this is their way of connecting to a lot of people that have supported them over the years and made them as successful as they are. Basically gives back, and have a good time in the process, Evans said.
“I think the artists enjoy to connect with Southern California. Not only that, but you got all kinds of food and everything else. It’s like a giant family reunion.”
Not only does the KJLH stage give a family-oriented and “concert-like” feel to Taste of Soul, what is done behind stage is very unique in itself.
“We’ve been fortunate to have some up-and-coming artists and they get a chance to meet the more established artists. I saw guys that sang and then they saw these other artists and they were almost like asking for their autograph. The new guys had songs that are hits, you know. It’s really a melting of music. We try to cross as many different eras as we possibly can under the term of Radio Free,” Evans said.
If you are an avid Taste of Soul attendee then you must be dying to know who will be performing this year! Although Radio Free 102.3 KJLH has not officially released any artists, rest assured, they say to stay tuned for performer announcements! They say that their stage has always hosted great artists in the past and has always been exciting and will continue to do so!
“We try to bring our best. It’s an existing brand and the Sentinel has done a fabulous job of cultivating it, caring for it, growing it, so our goal is to just add to an existing event and bring our ‘A’ game,” Slade said.
They say this year, their program director, Aundrae Russell will be hosting and their on-air talent will be on stage throughout the day. They also say they will be doing a live broadcast in the morning to introduce Taste of Soul founder and creator, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., political representatives and their clients, supporters and sponsors. For the first time ever during Taste of Soul, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH will be having a fashion show in between acts! There is lots to look forward to this year at the 2013 Taste of Soul, so make sure to come out and enjoy all the food, fun and music that the largest street festival in LA has to offer!