With an homage to Valentine’s Day, Grand Park plans to acknowledge love as a powerful and essential affirmation of self, community and joy with its annual Grand Park’s Lovers Rock celebration. For 2021, Grand Park, powered by The Music Center, is expanding its annual fête into a two-week digital festival with a focus on music and food. Rooted in the Reggae sounds of the 1970s and in Caribbean nightclubs in London, Lovers Rock is more than a music genre—it serves as a space of love and identity within the nuanced intersection of gender and expression. Viewers can celebrate the “month of love” with on-demand entertainment as well as recipes to make at home for Valentine’s Day by logging onto Grand Park’s digital channels from Friday, February 12 through February 28, 2021. Given COVID-19 restrictions and Grand Park’s commitment to keeping artists and the public safe from community transmission, the programming is pre-recorded; no events will take place in Grand Park on Valentine’s Day.
“Good music and tasty food seem to always take us to the ‘happy place’ we all crave, especially right now. Those are two major elements of Grand Park’s annual Lovers Rock celebration that will never change, even if the location may,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO, The Music Center. “Although we usually celebrate this event on Valentine’s Day in the park, the digital festival allows us to more deeply explore this genre of music and its influences on today’s generation. Grand Park’s Lovers Rock represents love for self and others at a time when healing and social understanding are paramount.”
“The focus on wellness and the arts serving as catalysts for promoting mental health, healing and self-care will function as a through line for all of Grand Park’s programming for 2021. Over the years, Grand Park’s Lovers Rock has always been a celebration in a communal setting of the many ways we all love, whether romantic, familial or even with our pets,” said Julia Diamond, director, Grand Park.
“Showcasing vegan food demos—which could be the next sourdough—and five of the hottest DJs in Los Angeles, Grand Park’s Lovers Rock is our way of keeping this music alive and celebrating its welcoming message of joy, acceptance and community with the overall purpose of just having a good time!”
A highlight of Grand Park’s Lovers Rock will be an IG Live interview with GRAMMY®-winning producer Aston Barrett, Jr., band leader of The Wailers, on Sunday, February 28, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. (@GrandPark_LA on Instagram). Hailing from Reggae royalty, Barrett will discuss the importance of love in the sound and music of The Wailers and Barrett’s 2021 GRAMMY nomination for Best Reggae Album (One World) as well as his favorite Lovers Rock tracks.
Los Angeles-based music curators will create individual music playlists in honor of the Lovers Rock genre with sounds oscillating from Reggae and Dub to Ska and Dancehall. The five different curated playlists, featuring 20–25 songs each, will offer historical context that unveils the cultural connections in music across generations, customs and identities. Beyond listening to the DJ sets, fans can log onto grandparkla.org and immerse themselves further in the music by reading detailed narratives from the DJs about their choice of songs and background of the music featured. The five guest performers include:
• With a deeply rooted musical legacy, Novena Carmél, the new co-host of KCRW’s “Mornings Becomes Eclectic,” will spin a set that is largely inspired by the early foundation of Lovers Rock—Reggae versions of classic love songs. Carmél’s playlist was complete when it came in at 1 hour and 43 minutes a.k.a. “143,” the old school pager code for “I love you.”
• From Brown Sugar’s “Black Pride” to Janet Kay’s “Silly Game’s,” Christian Morales (co-founder of Qvolé Collective) will create a playlist to move listeners through the essence of love and heartache. Highlighting Lovers Rock derivative genres such as Dembow, Reggaeton and Punk, his set will also feature music from The Selector, Shabba Ranks, The Noise and The Clash.
• As a 10-year collaborator opening for Prince and frequent guest on major world tours with other artists, DJ Rashida (Rashida Robinson) is a cultural influencer and fashionista who will spin a Reggae-focused set.
• DJ Hoseh (Jose C. Salguero) has been a part of L.A.’s music fabric for 24 years, first hosting “Headspace” on KXLU 88.9 FM and also as a founding member of dublab, where he hosts “Version Sounds.” Serving up the sweet sounds of an all-vinyl set, DJ Hoseh’s playlist will be multi-dimensional, sharing a broad palette of music aligned to the genre.
• Storm the DJ conquers both beauty and bass in her passions as a DJ and producer. Traveling the world as a model, Storm’s music is influenced by different cultures, which will transpire her playlist featuring a classic variety of Reggae music known for its romantic sound and style, but with a “Special Storm” twist.
To stop New Year’s resolutions from fading, Grand Park’s Lovers Rock also forges the notion of self-love and nourishment through food with a focus on incorporating healthy choices into our daily lives. Grand Park’s Lovers Rock will feature Angela Means Kaaya, founder of Jackfruit Café, who will guide viewers through easy-to-follow food tutorials of a full vegan meal: Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes; Garlic Cauliflower, Red Potato Mash; Meatless Meatloaf; and Key lime Cheesecake Bites. All of her plant-based recipes will be posted at grandparkla.org. A longtime community partner with Grand Park’s à la Park Food Trucks program, Kaaya recently opened a permanent storefront in West Los Angeles within COLONY, an innovative dining experience featuring pick-up and delivery options from 25+ restaurant brands.
For more information about Grand Park’s Lovers Rock, visit grandparkla.org. Follow Grand Park on Facebook (GrandParkLosAngeles), as well as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@GrandPark_LA). *Artists and performances are subject to change.