Photos and Text
by Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles-A friend recently stated "I can't believe that the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire is already happening."

This statement is welcome news for the organizers of the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire. This lets them know that annual event is one of the most anticipated cultural events of the summer.

KNBC Channel 4 Anchor Furnell Chatman, a perennial favorite, returned to host the African Marketplace Gala, which was held on August 17 at the new Nate Holden Performing Arts Center on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Gala featured performers were the IndigDance, an Australian indigenous performing troupe and Baladugu Kan. Drumming, salsa and other cultural entertainment were also featured. The Gala consisted of introductions of the African Marketplace Ambassadors as well as all of the sponsors who have made the event possible.
The African Marketplace and Cultural Faire kicked off on August 18 at 10:00AM with the traditional blessing of the grounds ceremony presided over by the Ghanaian high priests.
I made my way over to Rancho Cienega Park, 5001 Rodeo Road for this year’s festival on the opening day. My intentions were to stay for a couple of hours. I was so captivated by the spacious lay out of the Marketplace and the quality of the entertainment that I extended my stay well into the evening.
The African Marketplace and Cultural Faire is a family oriented, family friendly event that guarantees to feature something that the entire family can and will enjoy.

Highlights from my visit to the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire on Saturday, August 18, featured storyteller Ellaraino who is a popular performer not only at the Marketplace but a popular performer throughout Los Angeles, performing on the Youth Stage.

I managed to learn some hot new dance moves with my two left feet thanks to the Chicago Steppers performing and giving dance lessons on the Caribbean Stage.

The African Stage featured many wonderful cultural dance performers such as the LA African Dance Ensemble, Drumspirit and The Weusi Dancers, Indig Dance and Balandugu Kan Dance Ensemble.

My musical palette was satisfied with the marvelous talent scheduled to perform on the North American Stage. I have heard so much about Rose Gales from various jazz associates. I finally had the privilege to see her perform in person. I must say that I can attest to all of the accolades afforded to Ms. Rose Gales (piano/keyboards). Ms.Gales performed with some equally impressive musicians-Kescia Potter-saxophone. Ms. Potter is also an educator as well as a bandleader, Nedra Wheeler-bass player, educator/ bandleader and Giovanni Givens-drums. They performed original as well as jazz standards and featured several guest vocalists.
Another gem of a discovery was the attractive Filipino vocalist named Charmaine Clamor. Ms. Clamor is receiving a lot of rave reviews all across the country for her unique musical form that combines American jazz and blues with the melodies, languages and instruments of traditional Filipino music entitled jazzipino. The African Marketplace and Cultural Faire, North American Stage area was transformed into an intimate jazz club for this new singing sensation. Charmaine performed tunes her debut CD-Searching For The Soul and her latest CD-Flippin' Out. She was accompanied by good musicians for her set-Abe Lagrimas Jr.,-drums/ukulele, Richard Ickard-guitar, Gary Wickes-bass and Gustavo Garcia-percussions. The tunes featured were "My Funny Brown Pinay"-a different version of "My Funny Valentine", "With or Without You" by U2, she honored the legacy of Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and local jazz and blues legend Linda Hopkins on the tune "Sugar In My Bowl" (women blush upon hearing this song) and performed a classic Filipino tune "MinaMahal Kita."
Charmaine Clamor kicked off her national tour with a couple of local dates (September 1) in Los Angeles at Catalina Bar & Grill Jazz Club located on 6725 Sunset Blvd. Additional tour date stops are on the East Coast in New Jersey, New York and Boston. For more information visit

The North American Stage also showcased the talented Dawn Norfleet singing heartfelt gospel tunes, vocalist Scott McDuff getting down and dirty with the blues, followed by the Elliott Chambers Ensemble. Shout out to Roscoe Lee Owens for keeping me in the zone-The Jazzone.

Every year the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire give the city of Los Angeles an outstanding line-up of entertainment, arts and crafts and much more that is reflective of the amazing accomplishments of people from the African Diaspora. From Australian Aborigines to Native Americans of African descent to Nigerians to Ethiopians to Belizeans, Brazilians to Jamaicans to American everyone were treated to the sites, sounds and tastes of the wonderful cultures in Los Angeles.

I can attest to the stellar line-up of outstanding musicians performing at this year’s cultural faire. I adjusted my schedule so that I could attend all three days of the closing weekend. My options for Labor Day Weekend were a blues festival and/ or two jazz festivals in the Southbay. I picked the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire to celebrate the official last hurrah for summer.

Pam Darden of the Marvelettes was another of the surprise gems performing on Saturday, September 1st. She demonstrated her versatility as a vocalist by performing superbly on some jazz standards- “Misty”, “Summertime”, “Stormy Monday”, "Green Dolphin Street", and "On A Clear Day." She was aided and abetted by the Imani Band-Grant Peters-keyboards, Bob Lee-bass and John Ryskowski on drums.

Everette Turner & His Noble Troubadours provided amazing big band sounds on “Centerpiece”, “Little Darling”, “Birdland”, "Just the Way You Are", and "Things Ain't Like They Used To Be."

Rounding out the entertainment for Saturday, September 1st were bandleader, drummer and fabulous tap dancer  Chester Whitmore and Opus One Big Band.

On Sunday, September 2nd, I continued to get my daily dose of jazz, Latin jazz and salsa. 
Popular Los Angeles based Doo Wop group Renaissance entertained the crowd with some original tunes from their debut CD.

Onage Murray (vibes/flute) and his band entertained the crowd with jazz on the African stage. We traveled south spiritually to Puerto Rico to the contagious Latin sounds of boogaloo, cha, cha, cha, mambo and salsa provided by the group Oye and Latin jazz and bomba music of Bobby Matos Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble. Miles Perlich-KKJZ program host performed double duties as the Master of Ceremonies and percussionist with the group Oye.

Monday, September 3rd- Brazilian Festival returned to the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire. The Caribbean stage area was transformed to a cultural festival like one would experience in Brazil. People were dancing, singing, eating, talking and drinking plenty of Brazilian coconut water and other refreshing Brazilian drinks to celebrate Brazil's Independence. The music on the Caribbean stage featured Just Love representing Belize and Capoeira Brazil, Sambajah and Reggae Motion from Brazil.

The African Marketplace and Cultural Faire also featured a Wholistic Pavilion, Health Pavilion, Cinema After Dark, Little Africa Youth Village, Fine Arts Pavilion, a Technology Village, Afro-Native Pow Wow, Literary Village, a Belizean and Reggae Festival plus ethnic restaurant pavilion that offered delightful food and special drinks.

----- Ricky Richardson

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