October 03, 2013
By Ed Rice, III
LAWT Contributing Writer
The Taste of Soul StarQuest Singing Competition returns for another round of rousing performances from the best local talent in Los Angeles on October 4th and October 5th. In-person one-day auditions will be held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (Macy's Bridge) at 3560 Martin Luther King Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008. This year, the competition has been expanded to include the StarQuest for Kids competition for kids ages 5-17. For singers ages 18 and up, auditions will be held Friday, October 4, 2013 from 10am-2pm; for kids ages 5 – 17, auditions will take place Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 1pm-5pm. This year, StarQuest Singing Competition hopefuls also have the option of submitting auditions online at www.tasteofsoulla.org.
“StarQuest was Danny Bakewell’s vision,” said Yvette Bailey, StarQuest Singing Competition producer. “Danny Bakewell wanted to create a platform for artists in our community, for talented individuals in our area who wanted to be performers. So he approached me and Tony Cornelius (Soul Train Executive Producer and StarQuest Co-Producer) last year to come aboard and execute his vision.”
This year, ten finalists will be selected from all eligible submissions, based on a combination of their performances and creativity. Those individuals selected as finalists will be given the opportunity to perform a 3-5 minute set on the StarQuest stage at the 8th Annual Taste of Soul Family Festival. Additionally, two StarQuest winners will be selected by the combined vote of the StarQuest producers and the live audience to perform a 3-5 minute set on the Radio Free 102.3 KJLH Stage or on the 94.7 The WAVE stage during the Taste of Soul.
For Houston native and one of 2012’s grand prize winners, Beau Williams, the StarQuest competition was just the right competition at the right time. “It was a great feeling to win. This was a quality contest because they had a lot of good talent,” said Williams. “I really appreciate what Mr. Bakewell is doing for the community. I was able to perform on the main stage and it was an ocean of people—that was an electrifying experience and I love to perform.” According to Bailey, all of the StarQuest contestants are continuing their “quest” for stardom. “StarQuest is a great platform and launching pad. For many of the contestants, it actually reinvigorated their passion for singing because they have experienced a lull in their career and StarQuest reignited that passion for what they do,” explained Bailey. “It made more people aware of who I was,” added Williams. “It was great for me and now I’m working on a film that I wrote and I will be shopping it soon. I think it’s a wonderful thing for the community with Taste of Soul being such a high profile event; the notoriety from winning amongst a strong roster of singers gets you the recognition and people really appreciate your gift and talent and several things have opened as a result.”
While the Bakewell Company is known for community outreach, they’re also known for business and economic empowerment in the African American community and this is a combination of both. “You’re reaching out to the community, you’re helping people and empowering them to achieve their dreams. It’s one of the things that make this different from any other talent competition,” stated Bailey. “This competition is right in our neighbourhood. You don’t have a lot of talent competitions that come down to South LA looking for talent and a lot of talented people can’t take days off work to stand in line and audition, so they’re never able to realize their dream. Just having something that you can go to around the corner and have a chance to get on the stage in front of thousands of people is invaluable.”
“I think that Danny Bakewell has opened up many opportunities for the community over the years and StarQuest gives local artists a chance to perform in front of our audience,” said Cornelius. “The community really appreciates the artists hard work and effort and its something they’d never get in any other competition. The concept makes for an excellent presentation.”