For the third straight year, the Love and Soul Family Festival is set to deliver a great family friendly experience full of live music, community and fun.
Organized by Matthew and Kimberly Gunn, the festival takes place in Forsyth Park on Mar. 7 and is free and open to everyone.
The couple has hosted the Love and Soul Experience for a few years now.
“We started Love and Soul back in 2011, started it off as an event,” remembers Kimberly. “Then three years ago, in 2017, we decided to take it outdoors and make it more of a family event.”
This event is as family-friendly as it gets, inviting people of all ages out to enjoy a nice day in the park while listening to music.
“The actual event is catered towards music lovers and couples 18 and up, so this was our way of trying to find something to bridge the gap between music lovers and those who have families,” says Kimberly, “and make it an outdoor event and something that everybody can be able to participate in and enjoy.”
“The biggest draw for Love and Soul is that we have live performances on stage,” adds Matthew. “Most of the artists we bring are local artists, and that was part of our plan—that we wanted to give local artists a platform.”
Local performers will include Zion, Leah Savant and Jones-a-Phones and offer poetry, spoken word and dance in addition to a music lineup that’s representative of all genres.
This year, the festival adds a fun twist by bringing in a major headliner.
The Hamiltones are a Grammy-nominated trio of singers based in North Carolina. Tony Lelo, 2E and J. Vito put on an exciting soulful show, and their appearance at the Love and Soul Festival is not to be missed.
“We know with the economy, people are struggling and they can’t afford to take their family to hear a Grammy-nominated artist, so we provide an opportunity for the music,” says Matthew.
Another perk of the festival is its spotlight on the youth and the positive things they’re doing.
“It also provides a platform for our youth to express their artistic ability,” says Matthew. “A lot of times they don’t have the opportunity to express themselves. We have all the negative press that’s going on, and this is something positive. We display a whole bunch of youths taking an opportunity to show people that they are talented and unique.”
Music is certainly something the Gunns are passionate about. Kimberly has been a recording artist since 2010 and performs with her band, Kimberly Gunn Music, around town.
“I sing and write songs, and I have my own cover band,” shares Kimberly. “I’m a soul/gospel artist, but for the festival I’ll be doing some original music, which I’m excited about. I’m debuting my single called Clap for Me; instead of looking for others to clap for you, you need to learn how to clap for yourself and celebrate the small things in life. We struggle and we have different things we battle.”
In addition to the live music offered at the festival, there will also be food trucks and vendors onsite.
“We have food trucks and other food vendors, and we have vendors so you can get your shopping on,” says Matthew. “There are a lot of small business vendors, so they have an opportunity to get some of the local things they do to the people that come out. We have face paintings and bounce houses for the kids—it’s just a nice day in the park.”
Love and Soul has a lot of community support, particularly from sponsors CareSource, Farah and Farah and Rawls Realty in addition to Kimberly’s music group. It’s been a very well-attended event the past two years and should be the same this year as well. Its popularity shows just how necessary an event like this is for our community.
“It’s grassroots, it’s for local people, it’s for small business owners, it’s for networking purposes, and it’s for family, “says Kimberly. “So all of that combined with [the fact that] we tried to take holistic approach and think about what we like to do and participate in. I think it’s important because it’s just needed. We need more things like this.”