GOODfest is a fundraiser dedicated to bringing together music, community, and technology to raise funds and connect people in the name of “good.” The overarching theme is love ,with specific attention paid to showing love and support to those of the LGBT community. The venue chosen to host this 5 city show performances by D.R.A.M., Solange and Dawn Richard was held at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The venue is just as much of an art piece as the performances themselves. High ceilings and heavily detailed ornamentation turn the modern theater into a time warp back into the renaissance period. The DJ plays a beautifully curated mix of tunes new and nostalgic as he looks down on the lobby from the 2nd floor terrace as the show begins.
Butterscotch opens the show holding a guitar. She breaks into beat boxing providing a cadence for the accompanying melody. She becomes all of the elements to a fully composed song, switching between percussive plosives, guitar stings strums and vocal melodies. Her first song is “Accept Who I Am,” a reflection of self and acceptance. Following is a song featuring something of a jazz trumpet sound being imitated by Butterscotch, creating a surreal audible experience morphing her voice from the airy tones of a trumpet into the delicate timbre of her voice.
Jon Boogz addresses the crowd after his video “Color of Reality” plays for the theater. The video is a beautifully crafted work of art fusing visuals artistic elements with dance. It narrates social issues regarding recent controversy between the police and minorities, namely African Americans. Jon seeks to heighten awareness around critical issues through the universal language of dance. The video shows two African american men and how social injustice affects their lives emotional and physically. Boogz then performs a live dance arrangement to theme of “love heals all things.” The other shows’ themes were all promoting positivity and goodness highlighting humanity, equality, generosity and Earth.
The 2nd part of the nights performances are centered around “Redemption: How love can save us.”
Like the licks from a red flame, Genevieve arrives on stage wearing a bright red blouse; her movement resembling the fins a beta fish as her fabric flows like cascading sheets of silk. She wears black tights with red heart hearts and crystals. The set is simple, featuring nothing but a keyboard player, red flood lights and a live video feed of her performance. Her strong vocal presence and heart felt lyrics take center stage and demand “Authority,” one of the songs from her album “Show Your Colors.” She also performs a song she wrote for little sister, “For You,” where she expresses the unwavering love she has for her sibling. Geneveive is feeling herself as she dances to her own groove.
Like a beautiful morning, Dawn brings forth light through her performance. The former singer of Diddy’s Danity Kane and Dirty Money brings out two dancers who open the set with a solo performance of hip hop inspired by traditional African moves. She modernizes her song “I Hate That You Love Me” by addressing the plight of our social issues with “These LA streets are killing me!” She drops to her knees in front of the guitar player and sings to the notes of his strum reminiscent of Micheal Jackson’s dramatic “Dirty Diana” performance. The dancers exit the stage, in rhythm, with fists raised in reference of the iconic gesture of the civil rights movement.
Dawn surprises the venue with an impromptu collaboration with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Providing a full bodied and all encompassing performance in their reproduction of Dawn’s song “Voice” which features live instrumentation from flutes, trumpets, keyboards, tambourines and a Cajon box drum, her performance is a lively, authentic ensemble experience. “Voices,” is a song about discovering who one’s true self is despite the influences of others’ definition of one should be. “Black Crimes” is a song about hate crimes against black lives; a member of the crowd mouths the lyrics with passion and adoration as his fingers form an interpretive heart. The heaviness of her words “they don’t realize this is murder?” is offset by the lightweight and playful flow of her all white wardrobe flailing behind her as she moves about on stage; a very conscious and comprehensive performance. She receives a standing ovation.
With his iconic shrieks, Bilal is next to partner with the Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble, singing in his signature sound. Performing “All Matter” and “Someday We’ll All Be Free,” Bilal intermittently takes breaks to admire the band backing him almost as if he’s not a part of the performance himself, walking up to wind instruments, percussion and keys section respectively, nodding his head in agreement and admiration of the musicality transpiring in the moment. The whole performance is a big jam session featuring a saxophone solo that Bilal allows to steal the spotlight from his own sparkling ankh.
Love is apparent in all aspects of the night. Positivity, creativity, support and philanthropy are the element that affirm the mission of GOODFest. The artists allow themselves to be available to accept praise, take pictures and engage in one on one conversation for all those who felt compelled to take the opportunity. Each of the artists could be found throughout the venue after the show, mingling with those in attendance creating a fest whose experience is much more than good. It was great.