Concerts showcase South End talent

Hip-hop and gospel share Aug. 12 Othello Park stage

The Othello Park Concert series, now in its second year, showcases a montage South Seattle artists as innovative as their songs and as engaging as their stories.

Global Heat derives its musical flavor from founder Rob Pastorok's longtime passion for jazz. But the band's distinctive character emerged from Rob's chance encounter with popular hip-hop emcee, Ra Scion. The content of Scion's lyrics and sense of rhythm in his delivery caught Pastorok's ear.

"Since then, Global Heat has blended rap and hip-hop with a unique artistic flair of jazz," Pastorok noted.

Global Heat focuses on messages with positive lyrics that are about connecting people across the world, about facing challenges and overcoming them by discovering one's inner strength.

"But it's also about having fun and getting up and moving," says Pastorok. "There's a lot of controversy over hip-hop and rap, especially worry about profanity or disrespectful lyrics. There's nothing disrespectful in what we do. The band goes over really well with young people, but also with families. People say 'I didn't think I liked rap, but I like your music.'"

Also performing on Aug. 12 will be the Judah Song Gospel Choir. Reverend Cora L. Jackson, director and heart of the choir, grew up in a family where everyone sang.

She says, "I love the Lord and that's what I write about, so if you can sing, and sing what I write, then you can be in the choir," Jackson said. "I believe that if you continue to sing words over and over again, they (the words) will change your life."

Cora is no stranger to South Seattle. In the late 70s she lived on South Frontenac Street just a few blocks from Othello Park. She played at the local bingo parlor and shopped at the Holly Park Safeway.

"The neighborhood had everything you could want, including nearby Othello Park," she said. "I would take my daughter there every day to swing. It was a quiet park. I never thought of it as unsafe. My first child wanted to go on the slide, so we both got on and went down very fast. I was eight months pregnant with my second child, and you can't stop very well. So I sort of flipped over when I got to the bottom. I was not as smart then."

Jackson also remembers how, in the spring, kids would be all over the park during the annual egg hunts.

Jackson said that having local groups perform is one of the best ways to bring a neighborhood up "because people start knowing what their neighbors can do and can feel good about where they live.

"If people sing together, they become like family, and it's hard to hurt members of your family. Music brings people together," she added. "That's why music is powerful, and it's important how you use it. Words and music are like flour and water. If you put them together it's like a paste. You can create something you couldn't make otherwise, like a cake, pie or cookies."

The August 12 Othello Park Concert also features Adefua African Music and Dance Company and emerging artist Rajnii Eddins. The free, all-ages concert starts at 2 p.m. at 4351 S. Othello Street, just west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South.

Randy Wigger and Othello writer Mona Lee may be reached via

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