Oct. 06--The Rhythm & Joy Festival comes to a close Sunday night with nearly two dozen acts including The Agape International Choir, Los Angeles-based Donna De Lory and Chicago rapper Common.
This third day of the festival wraps up the first ever event at the Hummingbird Ranch in Simi Valley, which kicked off Friday with legendary diva Chaka Khan.
"This is the coolest & most sustainable music event around," Chaka Khan tweeted Friday.
The Rhythm & Joy Festival is dubbed a transformational festival that includes not only uplifting music, but yoga, inspirational speakers, a Children's Village, Elders Salon and more.
"Transformational festivals are the new wave and are sweeping the Earth because people love leaving these festivals a new person," said RAJ festival founder Rickie Byars Beckwith "People love being close to nature, outdoors and listening to music that makes them feel good about being alive. And I felt it was our turn to do that here."
Byars Beckwith, music and arts director at The Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, has performed concerts all over the country and the globe and took from those experiences to create RAJ Festival.
The musical lineup also consisted of artists chosen for their involvement with peace activism, social engagement and philosophical alignment with the festival's mission, Byers Beckwith said.
"The people who are booked are the people that we know are cool people, who make your soul feel good inside," she said.
For instance, Chaka Khan is the founder of the Chaka Khan Foundation aimed at assisting women and children at risk.
"It's important to me that someone who stands up like that in the world to be at RAJ," Byars Beckwith said of Chaka Khan, who performed a rousing, soulful set to kick off the festival on Friday.
Longtime jazzman Roy Ayers, a Los Angeles native, also performed Friday. The last time the New York resident played in the L.A. area was in July with Queen Latifah at the Hollywood Bowl.
"I still have the enthusiasm and the flavor for this," Ayers said before his performance Friday. "I get really turned on when people get into the music and participate with me. It's really a wonderful feeling when that happens."
The 73-year-old musician, known as the No. 1 vibraphone player and one of the most sampled artists in history, plans to release a new album in January. While the album has a working title right now, Ayers is excited about its tracks, including the song "Wholiehoo" about a young dancer from Nigeria.
Ayers heads out on a 24-day European tour next month.
"RAJ is a wonderful thing," Ayers said. "I hope they continue to have more festivals like this."
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