The Taste of Minnesota celebrates the musical legacy of the Minneapolis sound

The captivating fusion of funk, rock, and pop that epitomized an era

BY NAGASHIA JACKSOn

In 1983, the late Ron Maddox created the Taste of Minnesota on the state Capitol grounds. Maddox’s vision was to organize a vibrant, family-friendly festival with live music and great food. The festival declined in popularity and attendance, ultimately leading to its demise in 2015. But now, after an eight-year hiatus, it’s back and better than ever, making a triumphant return to downtown Minneapolis in 2023. This year, the event celebrates the Minneapolis legends and the distinct musical sounds birthed in Minnesota, bringing back the nostalgia of the past and the excitement for the future.

Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Morris Day and The Time, Ann Nesby, and The Sounds of Blackness embody Minnesota’s musical legacy. The iconic Minneapolis sound, a captivating blend of rock, pop, and funk, took shape in the late 1970s, a testament to the innovative power of collaboration, particularly that of Prince and Andre Cymone. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Morris Day and The Time, and the Sounds of Blackness performed at the Taste of Minnesota for a musical family reunion.

Sounds of Blackness opened the festival with some of the major hits that brought them mainstream success, such as the songs “I Believe,” “Optimistic,” and “Hold On.” They also gave a sneak peek of their new singles, “Thankful” and “Hold Up Your Light,” which were written by group members Jamecia Bennett and Carrie Harrington, who are two of the only original members of the group left.

Jam and Lewis brought out Shanice Wilson, the singer of “I Love Your Smile,” Ruben Studdard, the winner of the second season of “American Idol,” and Ann Nesby, the queen of inspiration, along with Jamecia Bennett, the lead vocalist from the Sounds of Blackness, to perform songs that they have written and produced. They performed songs by artists such as Janet Jackson, S.O.S Band, Cherelle, Alexander O’Neal, Usher, New Edition, and Yolanda Adams, to name a few. With their extensive music catalog, Jam & Lewis could have stayed on stage all night. Hearing Shanice and Ruben perform songs such as “Again,” “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Alright,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” “Bad Girl,” and “Encore” had the crowd amazed at their exceptional vocals.

In 1983, the late Ron Maddox created the Taste of Minnesota on the state Capitol grounds. Maddox’s vision was to organize a vibrant, family-friendly festival with live music and great food. The festival declined in popularity and attendance, ultimately leading to its demise in 2015. But now, after an eight-year hiatus, it’s back and better than ever, making a triumphant return to downtown Minneapolis in 2023. This year, the event celebrates the Minneapolis legends and the distinct musical sounds birthed in Minnesota, bringing back the nostalgia of the past and the excitement for the future.

Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Morris Day and The Time, Ann Nesby, and The Sounds of Blackness embody Minnesota’s musical legacy. The iconic Minneapolis sound, a captivating blend of rock, pop, and funk, took shape in the late 1970s, a testament to the innovative power of collaboration, particularly that of Prince and Andre Cymone. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Morris Day and The Time, and the Sounds of Blackness performed at the Taste of Minnesota for a musical family reunion.

Sounds of Blackness opened the festival with some of the major hits that brought them mainstream success, such as the songs “I Believe,” “Optimistic,” and “Hold On.” They also gave a sneak peek of their new singles, “Thankful” and “Hold Up Your Light,” which were written by group members Jamecia Bennett and Carrie Harrington, who are two of the only original members of the group left.

Jam and Lewis brought out Shanice Wilson, the singer of “I Love Your Smile,” Ruben Studdard, the winner of the second season of “American Idol,” and Ann Nesby, the queen of inspiration, along with Jamecia Bennett, the lead vocalist from the Sounds of Blackness, to perform songs that they have written and produced. They performed songs by artists such as Janet Jackson, S.O.S Band, Cherelle, Alexander O’Neal, Usher, New Edition, and Yolanda Adams, to name a few. With their extensive music catalog, Jam & Lewis could have stayed on stage all night. Hearing Shanice and Ruben perform songs such as “Again,” “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Alright,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” “Bad Girl,” and “Encore” had the crowd amazed at their exceptional vocals.

Morris Day & The Time ended the evening with the following hits: “Get It Up,” “Cool,” “777-9311,” “Gigolos Get Lonely Too,” “Jungle Love,” and “The Bird.” They paid tribute to the late Prince by dressing in purple and performing his iconic song “Purple Rain.” The unexpected appearance of Jerome Benton, Morris Day’s charismatic hype man, electrified the crowd. This surprise element added a new level of excitement to the Minneapolis music reunion, making it a significant event for Minnesota.

The Essence Festival in New Orleans also celebrated the iconic Minneapolis sound. With stellar performances by Sheila E, Janet Jackson, and Usher, who paid tribute to Prince by singing “Adore.”