Terrace Martin headlined the South L.A. Power Festival (Power Fest) on Saturday where he performed an hour of live music for local community residents of South Los Angeles and received a commendation from the city. The event also included a DJ set from the legendary Mr. Choc of the World Famous Beat Junkies, Boogaloo Assassins as well as performances from local artists DJ Wourdamouph and Toquon Tha MC, Britt J, and Rae Khalil. Power Fest is the premier political music festival that attracts thousands of families from South Los Angeles in a day of celebration, empowerment, and education. Power Fest takes place in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in the historic King Estates neighborhood of South Los Angeles.
This year, the theme of the annual South Los Angeles event was “#WeAreSouthLA” to empower residents to not only take pride in their neighborhood but become informed on the issues that affect it and link with organizations to address them. Power Fest featured performances from artists from or living in South Los Angeles but also included art installations from local artists (or referred to often as “artivists” as they are also activists) focused on mass incarceration and police brutality, health and wellness, reformation of California’s proposition 13, and immigration and citizenship. Local non-profit organizations who address those issues were also there to engage residents in local campaigns.
Power Fest is an important event for residents as it is the only annual music festival held in their community. The event is organized by the Community Coalition, a local non-profit works to help transform the social and economic conditions in South LA that foster addiction, crime, violence and poverty by building a community institution that involves thousands in creating, influencing and changing public policy. Current 8th District L.A. City Councilmember and former executive director of the organization, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, feels that having events like these and including Hip-Hop in these events are important for South L.A. “This is what our community should have been having for years.” He states, ” We produce all this talent. We produce all this beauty and it goes around the world, but we never get it at home. So we’re super excited we get to have it at home and we’re going to keep having it as long as we can.” Councilmember Harris-Dawson also presented Terrace Martin with a commendation from the city.
Mr. Choc is a regular featured guest performer at Power Fest. Every year he performs a set and engages the crowd. He shares why he participates and the impact Power Fest has on South L.A. “It’s always good to give back to the community. No matter how much we do with our careers or our individual lives it’s always good to see that we can come together as a people and celebrate life and talk about how we can uplift the neighborhood and the people in it.” He continues, “Everything’s positive and has a positive vibe going throughout the day. Weeks and months and years go by sometimes and they beat you up, it’s a lot of negativity in the world right now, it’s good that we something positive like this so we can give back to the people and make them feel good at least for a day.”
One of the benefits to holding free music festivals in South Los Angeles is introducing the community to homegrown talent and giving local artists a platform to perform and promote their work. Artists like DJ Wordamouph and Britt J have garnered quite a local following and have become popular names in the community. Hip-Hop Artist Rae Khalil grew up part of her life in the beach city of Torrance and part of her life in South L.A. She feels that along with the music, the other aspects of the festival are also important. “It raises awareness. My dad is actually here. He said he has something to do. When I said goodbye to him he said ‘I really want to stay because I want to be informed about things that actually mattered because I’m from this area. If I don’t know, it’s best you know.’ So that was really cool. That even when the music is off, the people are still engaged and focused on the actual causes, and why we’re here, and why we’re empowering people to speak up and have that type of voice. That’s really great.”
Another benefit to having events like Power Fest in South L.A. is that it brings together both African-American and Latino culture. Before Terrace Martin took the stage, Boogaloo Assassins, an 11-piece Latin band with a sound and style inspired by the Latin Boogaloo, Latin Soul, Salsa, and Latin Funk records of the 1960’s and 70’s, revved the crowd up with a live set. Terrace Martin and his band closed out the evening where he played many classic songs from artists like Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, and Bobby Caldwell. They also performed an impromptu song that they created live on stage named by the audience after the theme of the festival “We are South LA.” Terrace Martin also received some audience and familial participation allowing for his mother, his aunt, and a local resident to sing while he and his band played. One of the many highlights of the night was a surprise performance from Ill Camille who is also from South L.A. and was attending the event as a resident. “I love doing these type of events in the community,” Martin states, “This is where everything started– from the community. Its the source of the arts and everything else. I’m still in the community, I’m not even out of it so it’s good to play in front of my community.”
The annual festival was a hit with residents as they are not only provided with great food and music in their own community, but allowed for them to find ways to make sure their voices and concerns are heard. Local organizations were able to recruit for their policy campaigns to help improve conditions that South Los Angeles residents face. For more information on South Los Angeles Power Fest and ways to get involved, visit www.southlapowerfest.com.
Photo Credit: Leroy Hamilton Photography
Additional reporting by: Bruce Smith
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