Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oakalnd Art & Soul Festival Celebrates 10 years

By: Kevin L. Nichols

I thought that nothing would be able to replace the “Festival at the Lake” in Oakland, but the 10th Annual Art & Soul Festival certainly comes close. This was a star-studded display of Bay Area talent from various genres of entertainment, enormous options of culinary cuisine, and fun-filled activities for the entire family. The area surrounding City Hall was completely shut down and transformed to a marketplace full of vendors selling hats, clothes, accessories, beauty products, holistic services, and the like.

The restaurant alley consisted of food vendors selling barbeque ribs and chicken, jambalaya, fish, crab cakes, sweet potato pie, cobbler, etc. In addition to the food vendors, Lucky’s sponsored the “Foodstyle Pavilion,” where they had exciting Lucky Grill Master cook-offs with audience participants as judges which were hosted by KTVU’s own Laura McIntosh. With Lucky’s huge mobile kitchen and the chefs sharing samples of their wonderful concoctions, this was an area not to be missed.

As a former classmate and Oakland native, Shawn Granberry, referred to it, Art & Soul’s concert was uniquely a “Giving Back to Oakland” concert. There were 3 live stages on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, they were called the Main Stage (World Class Rock presented by KFOG), the Plaza Stage (Oakland Jams presented by Khalil Shaheed, Oaktown Jazz Workshop hosted by Don Reed), and the Gospel Stage (Gospel Showcase presented by Edwin Hawkins & the Community of Unity). The Main Stage featured such artists as the Bittersweets and CAKE, while the Plaza featured the Oakland Jazz Workshop, Kev Choice, and MC Hammer, and the Gospel Stage featured Terrance Kelly & the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the Greater Saint Paul Baptist Church, and the Bishop Walter L. Hawkins Love Center Choir.

On Sunday, the Plaza stage featured such acts as the Oakland Conservatory of Music and Pete Escovedo and Family – including Sheila E. The Oakland Blues and Heritage Stage featured such artist as Billy & the Thrillers, Filmore Slim, the Ballads, and Lenny Williams. The Main Stage showcased Club Nouveau, Toni!Tony! Toné!, and En Vogue. All performances were heartfelt and electrifying. The crowds were enormous and the cheers were far reaching.

This was a great weekend for Oakland. Former and current residents, young and old, white, black, yellow, or brown, came out in droves to support this city and the surrounding community…peacefully. Art & Soul is a great way to reflect on the many accomplishments and contributions the Bay Area has made to our country and to the world. May it continue to shine and I recommend that you mark you calendar for next year to celebrate Oakland once again.

Kevin L. Nichols is an author, President and CEO of KLN Publishing. LLC located in San Francisco, California. For more information, please visit http://www.klnpublishing.com.

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