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NYELA 2018 Featured Artists

We have an amazing list of artists to help bring in the new year.

Featured Artists

Dexter Story and the All-Star New Year’s Eve Band, featuring Raquel Rodriguez, Jimetta Rose, Kenneth Crouch, Kam Talbert, and more

Dexter Story is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, songwriter, producer, and music director. After earning an undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and performing with a diverse array of musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Ernie Watts, John Stubblefield, Slide Hampton, Jeff Narell, Kamasi Washington, Gaslamp Killer, Nick Rosen, and Les Nubians among others. His latest and most notable endeavors are music directing Summer 2015’s stellar Wattstax Revisited and Summer 2016’s Soy Africano concerts at Grand Performances, and producing Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recording artist Daymé Arocena’s acclaimed album Cubafonia.



Eclectic Soul singer born and raised in Los Angeles, Raquel Rodriguez and crew deliver music with a soulful, gritty groove that people love to dance and party to. Commanding the stage, Raquel’s live show is engaging and a crowd favorite at clubs and festivals across the country. With a potent blend of femme and aggression, she serves up sassy, heartfelt vocals which caught the ears of artists like Nigel Hall (Lettuce), Adam Deitch (Lettuce) and Borahm Lee of Break Science, Moby, as well as LA’s very own, Anderson .Paak. You can catch Raquel with Paak on his Cover Art album as well on his summer ‘Malibu’ tour. You may also recognize her as one of the fiery singers gracing the stage with him everywhere from Coachella to the Late Night Show starring Jimmy Fallon. The LA soulstress has also received airplay and support from music and culture tastemaker Garth Trinidad, DJ at top ranking NPR station KCRW and music editor for LA Canvas.  Her recent release, The 310, produced by Nigel Hall and Sam Brawner is now available everywhere!

Los Angeles native, Jimetta Rose has become a mainstay in the Los Angeles independent music scene while simultaneously digging firm roots into LA’s burgeoning creative renaissance drawing inspiration from jazz, R&B and Hip-Hop. One word that embodies Jimetta’s complex and mesmerizing sound is: SOUL. With her talent, style, and dedication to unfiltered creative expression, it should come as no surprise that Jimetta Rose counts among her friends and colleagues, many of the most popular artists and Dj’s in the Los Angeles music scene and abroad, which include Miguel Atwood Ferguson, Med and Blu, The Decoders, Alice Russell, Talib Kweli, Meshell N’Dgeocello, Erykah Badu, Joi Gilliam, Shuggie Otis, Zap Mama, Seu George, Shafiq Husayn, Dj House Shoes, and many more.

Born in LA, Kenneth was classically trained as a child, and in his teens broadened the range of his keyboard skills by embracing both gospel and jazz influences. Influenced by artist such as his uncle Andrae Crouch, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Bill Evans, he embarked on his musical career at the age of 15. As well as recording with Eric Clapton, over the years Kenneth has gone into the studio with many prominent artists, including The Temptations, Toni Braxton, Lenny Kravitz, Nancy Wilson and Vanessa Williams. He has appeared live in concert with Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Babyface.

Kam Talbert also known as “KamPAIGN” is a performer with multiple talents. He has a countless number of projects as a vocalist and singer collaborating with local Los Angeles artist, international artist, producers, and even well-known stars. Kam is also a playwright helping to write and produce an original musical called “The Museum of Living Art”. A project that was a collaboration with Jimetta Rose & Nappy Nation Productions. KamPAIGN is currently a curator of music and video for artist community, an online production company founded and run by Joseph Gordon Levitt.

You can currently hear Francesca Harding over the airwaves as co-host, producer and DJ on Los Angeles’ 90.7FM KPFK for Soundwaves Radio. Her Dj mixes have been featured on Jay Z’s blog, Life and Times as well as the El Sonido show on Seattle’s 90.3 FM. Francesca has spun internationally for crowds in the UK, Mexico City, Colombia, the Bahamas and South Korea, and regularly works for corporate clients in the Los Angeles area, including Numark and Elle Magazine.

Most recently, Francesca joined forces with L.A. based Dj-duo, the Beat Ventriloquists, to form a production collective called “Wear Patterns”. The trio has thus far released two singles that have garnered worldwide radio play and have graced the pages of LA Weekly, Earmilk, Large Up & Discobelle. “Wear Patterns” is set to drop their self-titled EP in spring 2018. With a broad taste in music and impressive technical skills, it is no surprise that Francesca Harding continues her reign as one of the most sought-after Dj’s in LA and beyond.

Born in Fresno, California and raised in Bakersfield, Mr Choc’s success comes from a lifelong passion for music. In 1995, he was picked up by Los Angeles’ Power 106 and broadcast in three cities and during his seven-year tenure, the station had the number one mixshow for three consecutive years.

In 1996 Choc became a member of the Beat Junkies Crew (Rhettmatic, Melo-D, Shortkut, Babu), one of the most respected DJs crew in the world. Gaining membership in this exclusive crew had a profound impact on Choc: “it showed me that despite everything I had learned in DJing at that point, there was still a lot more to learn. It also made me love my craft a little more because I was finally surrounded by people who understood it and loved it just as much as I did.” Today, as Director of Scratch-LA, Choc imparts his knowledge on to hungry and eager students. He also continues to hold down multiple residencies and parties throughout SoCal.

 DJ Babu – a member of the acclaimed Dilated Peoples and the Beat Junkies, this world renowned DJ is more than accustomed to feeling the expansive power of music at his fingertips. Winning countless DJ competitions in the 1990s such as the DMC Championship in 1997 and multiple ITF titles, Babu has gained the nickname “The Turntablist.” It couldn’t be more appropriate.

Now one of the most respected names in the world of DJs, the battle hardened Babu has set his sights on producing. “I’ve been going through a transition over the last three or four years into the producer realm, the beat making realm. It’s something that I’ve definitely been growing and nurturing over the years. I’m trying to bring my DJ fan base along to realize that I’ve been flipping beats and breaks and chopping up samples for years on the turntables, now I tryin to show ’em I do that in the studio too. I’ll always maintain my Dj career but lately I’ve been trying to flood the scene with my beats to make people take me seriously as a producer.”

D’Lo is a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American actor/writer/comedian whose work ranges stand-up comedy, solo theater, plays, films and music production, poetry and spoken word. He is a co-producer for DisOriented Comedy (mostly female Asian-American nationally touring stand-up comedy showcase) with Jenny Yang and Atsuko Okatsuka.

The documentary by Crescent Diamond based on D’Lo’s life/work, called Performing Girl, won the best short documentary award at Outfest 2013, and he was part of the Emmy-Nominated mini-doc series THIS IS ME produced by Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker. His tv/film credits include co-starring in the HBO series LOOKING as Taj, on the Amazon series TRANSPARENT and the Netflix series SENSE 8.

Aside from touring and facilitating workshops on the university/college circuit with D’FaQTo Life (defacto), D’Lo has also been touring his solo shows. His first solo show, Ramble-Ations: A One D’Lo Show (dir Adelina Anthony) received the NPN Creation Fund Grant inclusive of residencies in 9 US cities with additional support from the Durfee Foundation Grant, D’FunQT. His full-length stand-up storytelling show D’FunQT (defunct), directed by Steven Sapp of Universes in NYC (Ken Sawyer in LA), has toured internationally (SF, NY, Manchester, UK and 7-city tour in India and Sri Lanka – with additional funds received by through the Ford Foundation travel grant to host workshops for queer & trans theater artists in Chennai, India).

After a sold out 3 weekend run in NYC in the summer of 2017, D’Lo is continuing to develop his latest solo show To T, or not To T for a world premiere in Los Angeles. His work has been published in various anthologies and academic journals, including: Desi Rap: Hip Hop and South Asia America and Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic (co-edited by Sharon Bridgforth) and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics.

D’Lo is the creator of the “Coming Out, Coming Home” writing workshop series which have taken place with South Asian and/or Immigrant LGBTQ Organizations nationally, which provide a transformative space for workshop participants to write through their personal narratives and share their truths through a public reading. These workshops are specifically designed to provide emotional and spiritual support for individuals working through the complexity of their intersecting identities.

The LA County Library Turns the Tables workshop series had its start at the Compton Library in February 2017, as a Library Services and Technology Act grant program funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and administered in California by the State Librarian. Compton Turns the Tables offered teens and young adults the opportunity to learn DJ skills for free. Open to student ages 15 to 21, “Compton Turns the Tables” brought a series of ten DJ classes plus a mobile DJ lab to Compton Library.

Led by instructor DJ Lynnée Denise, a professional DJ and professor at Cal State LA, the workshop allowed students to gain hands-on experience with DJ controllers, while augmenting DJ training with instruction in music history, basic theory, techniques, developing a DJ business plan, including marketing and promotion. The course concluded with a concert and showcase that celebrated the students’ achievements and featured celebrity performers. Its overwhelming success led to the approval of additional funding from LA County’s Fourth Supervisorial District office and South Whittier Turns the Tables, held at the South Whittier Library, finished up workshops with a showcase held on November 18. Next in line is San Fernando Turns the Tables, scheduled to begin on January 12, 2018 and East LA turns the Tables to follow in late spring or early summer. Student DJs from Compton Turns the Tables and South Whittier turns the Tables have been given the opportunity to perform their skills at the LA County Library Staff Development Day, a special event held at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, and the grand openings of LA County Los Nietos and Artesia libraries.



5 years together…

Summer 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of Grand Park, “The Park for Everyone.” In just five years, Grand Park has embodied its slogan and become L.A.’s crossroads, town green and communal backyard. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Angelenos and visitors pass through this special place. They come to capture serene moments in their workweek. They come to splash in the fountain with their families. They come to dance, eat, watch, move or create at one of Grand Park’s hundreds of free events. They come to march and let their voices be heard. They come to ring in the New Year surrounded by fellow Angelenos.

Anniversaries are occasions to reflect back on the memories and the journey. Grand Park’s journey is a story of a million Angelenos who believed in it and have shaped it and made it their own. The Big LA Portrait Gallery is a thank you to those Angelenos. THEY are what has made Grand Park the success that it is.

The Big LA Portrait Gallery is modeled on the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. whose mission is “to tell the story of America by portraying the people who shape the nation’s history, development and culture.” At Grand Park, we are celebrating part of the story of Los Angeles, stories of its people. It is their passion, creativity, humanity, humor, commitment, and diversity that make Los Angeles such a wonderful place.

The 100 portraits of Angelenos were shot by 10 Los Angeles photographers, each asked to capture their L.A. For some the portraits are centered around place such as Sam Comen’s Central Ave. For others, they reflect communities of shared interest such as Joe Pugliese’s Sunday’s Best. These ten series show just a few of L.A.’s thousands of distinct groups all connected to each other in different, powerful, and meaningful ways.

Grand Park was created to be a place of connection and this project honors and celebrates our unique interconnectedness and the vibrant and powerful fabric of L.A.. Thank you Los Angeles for making the first five years so wonderful. Here is to many more!

-Julia Diamond

Interim Director, Grand Park

In the spirit of Angeleno expression, Grand Park reached out to the photographers to pick their brains about their experiences as photographers and artists in Los Angeles.

How does Los Angeles inspire  you as a subject for photography?



I shoot where I roam. I roam Los Angeles. Mostly east of the river and downtown. But I’m moved by all of Los Angeles, its complexity. It has never ending pockets, layers of human individuality in constant flux.

-Rafael Cardenas



I’m inspired to shoot in Los Angeles because it always seems to be at the frontier of history. This place is in flux, always on the verge. Nothing is static: and that’s incredibly interesting to photograph. I think it comes down to the myriad communities that call LA home — we’re reinventing the city as we reinvent ourselves.  It’s exciting to be part of LA, and to make photographs that examine it’s constant evolution.

-Sam Comen




The light in Los Angeles is hazy and lingering making for endless inspiration.

-Jessica Sample




LA inspires me because it is a place of seekers; they’ve come to realize a dream, however illusory. It’s a land of fantasy and escape, of Peter Pan’s staving off adulthood, compromise, the drudgery of insignificance. Most won’t see their name in lights. And the inevitable let-down and disappointment that comes with falling short – sometimes way short, brings pathos into the picture. Sometimes the dreamer finds that it’s ok that things didn’t quite work out as anticipated. They find another path that may not be grand, but nonetheless brings them satisfaction, a feeling of value.

-Gregg Segal

Los Angeles has always inspired me, from long before I knew it as a place that existed in reality. When I arrived here as a young adult it took years to reconcile the city in my mind and in my eye. It revealed itself slowly to be different from the one I knew as a setting and a backdrop for so many works of music, film and fiction. In the actual Los Angeles, I found a much more diverse and exciting collection of character and spirit than is often seen from the outside. Even now after so many years photographing the people of Los Angeles, I am still only beginning to discover what and who this city is made of.

-Joe Pugliese

LA is known as the entertainment capital of the world, but to me it’s so much more that that. When you dig a little deeper you find all these hidden gems that are underrepresented in the media and these are the kinds of stories that inspire me the most about this city. 

-Jessica Pons

The Big L.A. Portrait Gallery is part of an awesome summer of free fun. 

Our L.A. Voices found in PUBLISH! Deconstructing Emily

This weekend’s Downtown Bookfest was ah-mya-zing. showcasing over a dozen literary partners and activities, performances by some of L.A.’s best emerging and established writers, artists and musicians, and the beautiful balmy weather added jelly to the proverbial toast.

As you sat on the park’s fabulous pink furniture, Peter, Jessica and Douglas of Writ Large Press gave a quick lesson on how to work a vintage typewriter and you were released into the writing wild – stamping letters, words, and lines with the intent of deconstructing Emily Dickinson’s poems, and creating something new.

Over ONE HUNDRED poems were written Saturday afternoon in Grand Park by Angelenos of all ages and backgrounds, here are the works – published, signed, sealed and delivered:

Big ups to the Writ Large team, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs for providing free copies of Emily Dickinson’s works and all Downtown Bookfest partners for helping make Grand Park’s Downtown Bookfest a feel-good, inspiring day of unleashed OUR L.A. VOICES!

About Writ Large Press

Writ Large Press is a DTLA based independent press founded in 2007. In addition to publishing unique literary titles, Writ Large Press is dedicated to challenging the role of the book to engage community and respond to the times through three ongoing project: Ghostmakers, a book that was written, presented, and destroyed through the course of 2015; Publish!, a community writing and publishing project; #90X90, 90 consecutive days of literature as resistance. #ResistanceIsLit


PUBLISH! is our ongoing participatory, community writing and publishing project. Kicking off in 2013 in the Old Bowery Subway Station in NYC, PUBLISH! has traveled from art galleries, to train stations and parks, engaging writers, new and experienced, in DIY publishing through the use of typewriters, speech-to-text software, broadsides, Instagram, and mathematical equations.

Publish! is about more than writing a poem. It is about more than a book. It is about you. It’s about authoring your own narrative. It’s about owning your own stories and sharing them with your community through the act of publishing.


PAPER AIRPLANE Takes Flight in Grand Park



Yay! The Paper Airplane shade structure has landed in Grand Park!

An example of public art with a practical purpose, the structure can be moved and relocated to “take flight” in any area of Grand Park.

Dean and Elenita

Artists Dean Sherriff and Elenita Torres came up with the concept of the giant paper airplanes, and after a public vote, Los Angeles agreed that their concept would be the one to take flight to make A Cooler Grand Park.  Each plane represents one incorporated city in Los Angeles County and in its entirety, represents the 88 incorporated cities in the County.


Canvas Specialty’s engineers and industrial designers took the artists’ concept, then created the airplanes and structure and brought the concept to flight.  This project was fabricated in East Los Angeles and took six months to complete from concept to installation.


This inaugural public art project in Grand Park would not have been possible without the support of the Goldhirsh Foundation’s My LA2050 Grants Challenge.

BTW If the inspiration hits you and you have an idea for a better L.A., this year’s My LA2050 Grants Challenge is up and running! Propose your vision by OCT 4.

#SPRINGTIMEREADS: For the Love of Lit

The smells of Spring are in the air. The sights of flowers are in bloom. Young couples finding new love are everywhere you look. But at Grand Park, the love of literature abounds. To celebrate this literary season, the Park presents SPRINGTIME READS, a series encompassing a multitude of free literary events for all, including THE BRADBURY ROOM, weekly ¡LUNCHTIME! WRITERS’ MEETUPS, and DOWNTOWN BOOKFEST. Here’s a glimpse into SPRINGTIME READS’ faces and spaces:

The Bradbury Room. Photo by Javier Guillen

THE BRADBURY ROOM SAT MAR 12 // Click-Clack-Clickity-Clack. The sound of a dozen or so typewriters filled the air in Olive Court on a sunny afternoon in mid-March for THE BRADBURY ROOM. Fans of all ages, and all walks of life came together to celebrate the work of L.A.’s own Ray Bradbury and to kick off the literary season.

The Bradbury Room. Photo by Javier Guillen.

For some, it was their first time using such a device, but for other’s it was a trip down memory lane.

The Bradbury Room. Photo by Javier Guillen.

THE BRADBURY ROOM was part of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ The Big ReadGrand Park joined other L.A. schools, groups, museums and organizations in celebrating Bradbury’s seminal science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451. Participants of THE BRADBURY ROOM will get a chance to see their work in print on May 7th, at DOWNTOWN BOOKFEST.

¡Lunchtime! Writers Meetup. Photo by Javier Guillen.

¡ LUNCHTIME! WRITERS’ MEETUP EVERY TUES THRU MAY 10th // Every week creative and curious minds are gathering for ¡ LUNCHTIME! WRITERS’ MEETUPS. Writers of all backgrounds are encouraged to pop in and join a literary community led by multi-talented writer traci kato-kiriyama.

Photo by Javier Guillen.

GRAND PARK’S LITTLE LIBRARIES ALL YEAR ROUND // The Little Libraries are a perennial fixture in the park. If you’re looking for a new book to peruse, or to pass along a book you enjoyed. The concept is simple – leave a book, or take a book, and find a nook. The Little Library system is an organic way to spread the love of literature to fellow Angelenos.

Grand Park Pop-Up Park, The Last Bookstore. Photo by Javier Guillen.

POP UP PARKS // The pink landscape of Grand Park has a way of popping up in all sorts of places, including Macy’s and The Last Bookstore! Next stop is LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes’ Dia de los Niños on SUN APR 24.

Downtown Bookfest 2015. Photo by Javier Guillen.

DOWNTOWN BOOKFEST SAT MAY 7 // What would #SpringtimeReads be without a thrilling conclusion? DOWNTOWN BOOKFEST is that grand finale.

Downtown Bookfest 2015. Photo by Javier Guillen.

This year, DOWNTOWN BOOKFEST will explore, “Literary LA: Places, Spaces and Faces,” a celebration and reflection of where Angelenos love to read and write – past, present and future. Explore works from 31 independent presses and publishers at the Pop Up Bookshop…

Downtown Bookfest 2015. Photo by Javier Guillen.

…or hear readings from local authors on three stages, or poke your head into one of four literary panels spread around Grand Park’s nooks and crannies.

Downtown Bookfest 2015. Photo by Javier Guillen.

Youngsters can get excited for fun activities including performances by Birdie’s Playhouse, The Chameleons and more. And don’t forget to pop into the Skylight Books Children’s Bookshop

Downtown Bookfest 2015. Photo by Javier Guillen.

Bring your curiosity, your imagination and maybe your reading glasses, Springtime Reads is blossoming all season long for booksworms big and small.



Grand Park has a new landmark on the way…

Paper Airplanes by Elenita Torres and Dean Sherriff

The results are in! L.A. has chosen the design to make A COOLER GRAND PARK. Soon, Paper Airplane will soar over Olive Court. Artists Elenita Torres and Dean Sherriff have created a whimsical vision, inspired by both Grand Park and the Downtown landmarks that surround it. This project has been made possible by the Goldhirsh Foundation’s MyLA2050 Grants Challenge, which sought creative and innovative solutions to shape a better Los Angeles. The grant received by The Music Center will make it possible for Grand Park visitors to enhance their enjoyment and comfort by gaining much-needed UV protection, while increasing the park’s potential as the site for performances, exhibitions and festivals. Paper Airplane will be featured in the park for two years.

Elenita Torres and Dean Sherriff. Photo by Javier Guillen

When Elenita and Dean first moved to Los Angeles five years ago, their love of their new city was immediately galvanized when they first discovered Grand Park. “I ended up coming here by accident,” said Torres who was instantly enamored, ”What is this place?!” When they heard about this design challenge they knew they had to throw their hats into the ring.

“I think it goes well with the architecture in the area, with Frank Gehry’s building, and it’s even a nod to the art deco architecture (of City Hall). It looks like it all belongs together,” said Dean. They have sought to synthesize DTLA’s classic past with its bright future while still complimenting the essence of Grand Park. “With the beauty of the park when everything is blooming, and all the different colors, we didn’t want to take away,” Elenita added.

Torres and Sherriff explain their design reflects the hopeful nature of Grand Park with a universal concept – the paper airplane – that appeals to all ages and is understandable no matter what language one speaks.  Like the park’s emphasis on providing free, accessible programming, the artists describe the paper airplane as free to create.
The artists chose white as the main color for the planes to provide a neutral palette that would complement the surrounding garden landscape, add an element of elegance and symbolize peace.

Of course, the function of this new structure is to provide some much-needed shade, but it also will also serve as a place for the Angelenos to gather. “It’s such a vibrant county, there’s so much movement going on, you need a park like this in the center of it to give people a sanctuary,” said Sherriff.

Paper Airplanes by Elenita Torres and Dean Sherriff

With summer on the horizon, work on this project is about to get underway. And what better way to usher it in than by catching a bit of cool shade on a beautiful day in the heart of DTLA.

Thanks to Goldhirsh Foundation, the community of talented artists who submitted their beautiful designs, and all of Los Angeles for helping build a cooler future for Grand Park.

Go 4th DTLA

In preparation for tomorrow’s 4th of July Block Party, Grand Park’s Social Media Ninja, Javier Guillen, has continued the ongoing #gentedegrandpark series, asking people to share their 4th of July memories. Check it out!

come together

Photo by Javier Guillen

“I’m from Alexandria, LA (near New Orleans). After Hurricane Katrina I went back home to visit. I drove around to check out what had changed. The damage was incredible. I felt really bummed about my city, and the government’s response. I couldn’t believe this happened in the United States.

One evening, while I was there, I drove near a firework show down by the bayou. A bunch of regular folks from the local town were shooting them off. I stopped and really enjoyed the show. It was magical! There was a really special feeling in the air. I loved how the town came together for this holiday, even though there wasn’t much to be happy about. That moment gave me hope for the future of New Orleans and this country.”


happy b-day darling!

Photo by Javier Guillen.

“Beautiful day in the park!”

“Yeah, I love this park and all the events. Can you believe we were against the park when it was being built? We didn’t want to lose our parking! But now everyone I work with loves it.”

“Do you have any cool 4th of July memories?”

“Yes, We always celebrate 4th of July in a big way at home. Actually, 4th of July falls on my wife’s birthday. It’s always been a special day for us. Now that I have daughters, they get a kick that everyone celebrates with fireworks on their mom’s birthday. They think everyone loves their mom. Now they expect fireworks on their birthdays, too!


viva Chile!

Photo by Javier Guillen.

“Cool shirt”

“Thanks! I love the US. I always wanted to visit and now I’m here in the middle of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I won’t be here for the 4th of July, but it sounds like a big party.”

“Very cool. Where are you from?”

“I’m from Chile.”

“Awesome, How do you celebrate Chile’s Independence Day?

“We celebrate in September for two days. It’s called Fiestas Patrias. Everyone has those two days off from work and sometimes the celebration goes on for a week. Everyone in the family is in a good mood, we go to fondas and eat a lot of empanadas. Maybe one day I’ll celebrate Independence Day in the US.”

Photos and stories collected by Javier Guillen, Grand Park’s Social Media Manager.