Los Angeles – Weather-wise, every day is a good day in Los Angeles. NBC weatherman Fritz Coleman’s forecast was spot on. Bill Withers recorded a joyful song entitled “Lovely Day.” Yes, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, these were the main ingredients that contributed to the success of the 10th Anniversary Leimert Park Village Book Fair.
The 10th Anniversary Leimert Park Book Fair was held on Saturday, August 20th, from 10am-6:00pm, on the outdoor promenade of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (BHCP).
A steady stream of book lovers were drawn once again to this family-friendly, family oriented festival held in the heart of Leimert Park, the epicenter of the Los Angeles area African-American arts, intellectual and literary scene. The Leimert Park Village Book Fair’s tribute to the love of reading, and successfully merged the worlds of literary, entertainment and the culinary arts, offering attendees an eclectic mix of literature, art, music and food.
The Book Fair was in full stride as I arrived on the scene. S.H.I.N.E Muwasi opened the show in a traditional West African fashion with Libation and energetic, thunderous drumming and wonderful dancing. S.H.I.N.E Muwasi was formed and established by Rene Fisher-Mims with an intent and purpose to spread the knowledge of West African Drum culture to women in the community.
Barbara Perkins, Executive Life coach, Speaker and author of “Betrayal” served as Mistress of Ceremony for the first half of the program. Cynthia E. Exum, Producer, Executive Director and Founder of Leimert Park Village Book Fair welcomed the early arrivals to the festival and encourage everyone to visit and purchase books from the celebrity authors as well as new rising authors showcasing their creative writing crafts.
The crowd I was in for a treat. The Inner City Cultural Youth Orchestra, Musical Director, Charles Dickerson thrilled the crowd and I with some classical tunes, during their Spotlight Performance.
I walked back and forth from the Main Stage and the air-conditional indoor Cooking Stage (to take a break from the outdoor heat). Celebrity Chefs Jaime and Ramiro of Mexicano Restaurant at BHCP, unveiled their new cookbook, Salsas, and prepared three versions of Salsas from their latest cookbook.
Pioneering director-turned author Matty Rich (Straight Out of Brooklyn and the Inkwell) and legendary musician Charles Wright (writer of the hit song “Express Yourself”) engaged in an iconoclastic conversation. Rich talked about his book “BEV,”- a gripping novel that centers on the real-life story of a little known figure in the Civil Rights movement- a white Social worker by the name of Beverly Luther. Rich has also secured the movie rights to the book for a film adaption. Charles Wright discussed his new book, Up From Where We’ve Come,” which highlighted historical accounts of his past long before he gain monumental status as a musical legend.
Next up was a conversation with DeVon Franklin and Megan Good, authors of “The Wait,” hosted by Carla Renata, Member, African-American Film Critics Association. The conversation was lively, candid and frank as the couple shared lots of information about their courtship and love affair. The Q&A portion was humorous with advice to both men and women in the crowd, taking in to consideration the youth in the audience.
The Main Attraction featured Zane, the New York Times bestselling author of 32 titles, and considered one of, if not the most powerful African-American female in the publishing industry. She is the publisher of Strebor Books International –an imprint of Atria Books/Simon and Schuster and the third largest publishing corporation in America. Zane took time to sit down for a Q&A with Juliana Norwood, Editor-in-Chief, Our Weekly Newspaper.
The highlight of the afternoon for me was the Spotlight Panel Discussion entitled “Are We Better Off Today? The Issue of Race, Obama and The African-American Community.” The panel consisted of some powerful women, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, author of “Are We Better Off,” April Ryan-White House correspondent and political commentator, author of “The Presidency in Black and White,” and Los Angeles Times columnist Erin Aubry Kaplan, author of “I Heart Obama.” This engaging and heated discussion of the topic was moderated by Dominque DiPrima, Radio Personality, KJLH-FM/The Front Page.
Sports lovers were not left out of the festivities. Journeyman NBA/CBA player Jauquin “Hawk” Hawkins (Houston Rockets) author of “Stroke of Grace, The LA Lakers and Lakers Youth Foundation hosted Los Angeles Lakers, Metta World Peace, author of “Metta Bedtime Stories” and former NBA Player A.C. Green (LA Lakers) were in attendance to offer words and inspiration and encouragement to the youth.
Grammy-Award winning recording artist Bobby Brown was busy on this marvelous afternoon. He stopped by his booth to sign copies of his book “Every Little Step-My Story,” autograph his line of t-shirts and cooking sauces. Next he appeared on the Main Stage to discuss his new biography “Every Little Step-My Story” about his life, and love Whitney Houston. The discussion was hosted by Nischelle Turner (Entertainment Tonight). Bobby was open and honest about telling his truth about his life in the book. He shared some exciting good news with the crowd, 2017 will be an exciting year for New Edition, they will be honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a movie will also be released about their group.
Bobby donned his Chef apron and hat for a cooking demonstration to prepare mouthwatering dish called Bobby’s BBQ Salmon using all-natural, real ingredients from Bobby Brown Foods. You can order products, find recipes or share reviews on www.bobbybrownfoods.com Facebook: bobbybrownfoods Twitter: bobbybrownfoods and Instagram: bobbybrownfoods
Ramsey Jay Jr., motivational speaker and author delivered a powerful, uplifting message from his book “Empowering Dreamers to Become Achievers,” to the delight of the audience. He used the 2016 Olympics, African-American Gold medalist as a basis of his speech that really resonated with the crowd.
The festival concluded with a musical program: Funk music by “Favorite Flavor” with Patryce “Choc’ Let” Banks former lead singer of Grand Central Station. They funked up the festival that caused the crowd to be funkified as they jammed to the following tunes “Sex Machine” in homage to the Godfather of Soul, the late great James Brown, “Talking Loud and Saying Nothing,” “You Don’t Have to Be Rich to be My Girl,” by Prince, “Skin Tight,” and “Fire” by The Ohio Players and “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder to name a few.
The Leimert Park Village Book Fair is produced by Exum and Associates in collaboration with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas-the County of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; and Capri Capital Partners of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Sponsors include: Sempra Energy-The Gas Company; Caremore; Time Warner Cable; Nestle USA; KABC-Channel 7; Los Angeles Lakers; Lakers Youth Foundation; Loyola Marymount University; KLCS-TV (PBS); ATLS Worldwide; Mel Assagai; Strategic Counsel; Ralphs/Food 4 Less; and The Kinsey Foundation. Philanthropists and art historians Dr. Bernard W. and Shirley Kinsey serve as the book fair’s chairpersons, leading the fund-raising efforts and increasing the book fair’s brand awareness in the corporate community.
The mission of the LPVBF is to promote, encourage and advocate literacy, education and the love reading throughout the Greater Los Angeles areas. LPVBF is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to produced year round educational programming, as well as to the presentation of events in collaboration with our partners, in addition to the annual summer fair for which organization is named. With the backing of partners and supporters, Exum built a high-quality cultural event, and the people came!
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]