By Ricky Richardson | Contributing Writer

 (Los Angeles, Ca.) – A large, enthusiastic crowd of jazz and blues music aficionados came together in Leimert Park for a historic event, Saturday, September 10, 2022.

        The joyous occasion was the unveiling of intersection naming of Barbara Morrison Square. Elected officials, family members and community stakeholders spoke about Barbara Morrison’s life, legacy and career on this overcast day in Los Angeles.

        Heather Hunt, Los Angeles City Councilwomen, CD-10, Robert Sausedo, President/CEO, Community Build, Inc., Albert Edmund Lord III, V.P. of Government Relations and Arts Program at Community Build, Inc., Tim Morganfield, Co-owner, Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, CEO-California Jazz & Blues Museum, CEO, Morganfield

Entertainment Solutions, and Yvonne Farrow, Arts Manager, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs addressed the crowd the during the intersection naming ceremony.

        On the occasion of her 73rd birthday, this DCA festival commission commemorates the late Barbara Morrison, international empress of jazz and blues, community activist, educator, and entrepreneur, with the unveiling of the Barbara Morrison Square at 43rd and Degnan, outside of the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, officiated by the 10th District Council Office.

        The day-long lineup of music royalty on September 10, included celebrities as well as local musicians, singers and DJs. The festival footprint also includes a California Jazz and Blues Museum Artwork (featuring works from Ms. Morrison’s exclusive collection), a kid’s corner in Leimert Plaza Park, and a variety of vendors and food trucks.

        A wonderful painting of Barbara Morrison by Mohammed Mubarak was on display, stage left throughout the afternoon. Jay Jackson and James Janisse served as Master of Ceremonies.

        The show got underway with a recording of “Let’s Stay Together” by Barbara Morrison. Mike Mann & Country Soul followed with some foot stomping, hand clapping arrangements of “If I Could Take Back the Hands of Time,” “It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now,” and “Mustang Sally.”

        Al Threats & Amusement Park jump immediately into a jazz groove with “Seven Years of Good Luck” by Joe Sample, followed by an original tune “My Crying Heart” followed by “Miss Kriss.”

Lady Rene Blues (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        First Thursday Blues Band presents “Lady Rene Blues.” They didn’t waste no time in getting down with a set of down-home blues. Their set consisted of “Let the Good Times Roll” couple with lyrics of “The Blues is Alright” and “Caldonia.” They continued with “Still Away” and a breakout performance of “They Call Me Crazy” with scorching guitar riffs and vocals by Tyrone Moore.

        TheKarenA energizing set featured the tunes “Before I Let Go,” “Let’s Stay Together,” and “Passing Through My Ghetto.” 

Mud Morganfield and Big Bill Morganfield-Sons of Muddy Waters (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Torrence Brannon-Reese & His Everything with Soul Band. As the name states, the group brought to the stage some soulful, engaging sounds of New Orleans with a tight horn section, great rhythm section and guest vocalist Melba Joyce.

Ray Bailey and Brenda Lee Eager (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Ray Bailey & Friends had the stage burning on all cylinders as he charged up the proceeding with a fiery set of blues with “Everybody Wants to Know Why I Sing the Blues,” and “Sweet Little Angel.” Brenda Lee Eager joined the band to perform a beautiful ballad “What a Difference a Day Makes” and concluded their set with “Nighttime is the Right Time.”

        Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band entertained the captivated crowd with tunes from his catalog of classic, timeless hits. They were great on “Do Your Thing,” “Loveland,” “Tell Me What You Want Me to Do,” and the crowd favorite “Express Yourself.”

        Chester Whitmore and His Opus One Band thrilled the crowd with a high octane set of big band jazz from back in the day, complemented by dance performances from that era, and guest vocalist Dwight Trible, Greg Clayborne and Gavin.

        The show concluded with an entertaining and captivating performance of Chicago blues from blues royalty, Big Bill Morganfield and Mud Morganfield- Sons of Muddy Waters. It doesn’t get any better than that.

        Barbara Morrison sang with some of jazz’s biggest names, including Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Kenny Burrell, Hank Crawford, Nancy Wilson, Mel Torme, Ray Brown, the Count Basie Orchestra and Doc Severinsen’s Big Band.

        According to the UCLA Herb Albert School of Music, where she served as an adjunct professor of global jazz studies, she performed at Carnegie Hall, toured Europe with Ray Charles, and sang at the North Sea, Bern and Playboy Jazz Festival.

        Barbara founded the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in 2009 to bring music to the Leimert Park community. Morrison would often give free music and voice lessons to children and give them a chance to perform on stage.

        Barbara Morrison founded the California Jazz & Blues Museum in Leimert Park in 2011. Barbara Morrison transitioned March 16, 2022, at age 72.