On Sunday, the California African American Museum (CAAM) hosted a free concert outside its doors in Exposition Park to celebrate Black Music Month and the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the non-profit organization charged with protecting the artistic copyrights of its members. CAAM collaborated with Target as well as ASCAP’s Rhythm and Soul department to orchestrate the event.
Throughout the event, there were vendors selling clothing—including traditional African garb—specialty artwork, bags, and food such as crawfish etouffee, fried shrimp, and an assortment of barbecued delicacies.
Although the show was free, CAAM Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson ensured that there was no shortage of quality entertainment. The show was hosted by actor Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter, and actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph. Both performers provided amazing energy and successfully engaged the crowd. The hosts encouraged attendees to be a part of the show by getting out of their seats to dance and sing along with the performers. CAAM also provided a large TV monitor adjacent to the stage to display tweets from people attending the event, keeping the audience actively involved.
Reggae veteran Errol Bonnick opened the event performing “Roots Reggae” and “Lover’s Rock” music. He was followed by American Idol vocal coach Peggi Blu (also known as the American Idol “Vocal Coach from Hell”), who has starred in Broadway musicals such as “The Wiz”, “Marilyn, An American Fable”, and “Sisterella” among others.
Singer/songwriter Maad Moiselle also performed, supplying the audience with sassy, rhythmic R&B/Pop music from her debut EP “Indigo” that released March 14.
Singer, songwriter and producer Mali Music wrapped up the show with an outstanding performance, showcasing his lyrical mastery as well as his uplifting soulfulness comparable to his performances at the BET Music Awards and the Essence Music Festival.
“I started making music so I could help put everyone at ease,” he said.
At the conclusion of the show, Maad Moiselle spoke on the importance of recognizing Black music stating, “Black Music Month is very important, and spreading awareness of our culture is not good for just [Black people], but for everybody. There needs to be more free concerts where people can really get into new artists and culture.”
A native of New York, she said she was not accustomed to having free shows at venues such as CAAM, but felt it was exactly what communities all around the U.S. need.