Oakland Idol 

La Toya London toplines a musical tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Presenting La Toya London, the Oakland native and American Idolfinalist -- in that order. If you didn't already know that, please exit the cave you've been secluded in for the past year, register to vote, and take off that shiny light-blue FUBU jersey. Puh-lease.

Let the truth be told: If the whole state of Hawaii didn't vote solely for its native contestant (what's her name anyway? Oh well, who cares?), the last American Idol competition might have had a different twist with a different winner. Nonetheless, with no envy, and with that syndicated drama behind her -- and us -- it appears that the ordeal might have done more unexpected good than harm. After all, London wasn't just another pretty face (did we mention she's fine?) singing in the shower with a wild idea of performing in front of millions. She has been onstage all her life, as she testifies: "I love to sing, and I thank God for being able to sing." And putting on a show was nothing new to her. Pre-Idol, she traveled nationally with Dick Bright's 22-piece orchestra, and any local with good taste in barbecue and live music might have caught her in Jack London Square at Everett & Jones with the All Star Jukebox Band.

Basically, London was on a roll before Simon saw her coming, and she doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon. Lately, she says she is in the midst of a "creative process" while sewing up the loose ends on her upcoming album of straight "originals" on Peak Records. While the rest of the world is waiting for that project, she is ambitiously looking forward to doing movies and all that other stuff that comes with being talented and beautiful in the entertainment business. "I'm really blessed with the opportunities ahead of me," she enthuses.

In the meantime, London continues to grace her hometown of Oakland with her presence, smile, and voice as she joins forces with the legendary Grammy-nominated Gospel Hummingbirds, the Oakland Jazz Choir, and one of La Toya's own backyard collaborators that helped amplify her to the level she is now, the Oakland Youth Choir. Together they combine their musical messages to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the fourth annual musical tribute to Dr. King, In the Name of Love.

Complete with archival footage, plus celebrity hosts Clifford Brown Jr. of KCSM-FM and KDYA and Andrea Lewis of KPFA's Morning Show, this event promises to reflect the unified vision of Dr. King, with something for all families from every walk of life. If you want to see the realLa Toya London do her "thizzle" live, in her own neck of the woods, you can catch the show this Sunday, January 16, 7:30 p.m., at the Calvin Simmons Theater at 10 Tenth St. in Oakland. Advance tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and $6 for kids under twelve. Available at Ticketweb.com or 1-866-468-3399, or at bookstores: Marcus in Oakland, Cody's on Fourth Street, or Reid's Records in Berkeley. At-the-door tickets are $22, $17 for seniors. For more information, call executive director Stacey Hoffman at 510-287-8880, or visit OaklandJazzChoir.com and HJKEvents.com for directions.


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