Reid’s Records Honors Family Legacy with Charles Reid Gospel Festival

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The fourth annual Charles Reid Gospel Festival will feature the powerhouse Rance Allen Group from Toledo, Ohio, and fast-rising gospel diva Le’Andria Johnson from the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, Georgia, on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza in Richmond.

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The concert is named in honor of Charles Reid, David Reid’s late great-uncle.

 

“I decided to keep his legacy alive,” David, 61, says of the reason for naming his concerts after Charles. He has produced annual concerts featuring major gospel stars for the past four years.

 

Le'Andria Johnson will perform at the Charles Reid Gospel Festival.
Le’Andria Johnson will perform at the Charles Reid Gospel Festival.

Charles was a semi-professional pitcher who once played in exhibition games against Cool Papa Bell and other African American baseball greats, and later in life coached hundreds of young athletes at Richmond’s Nichol Park, many of whom went on to play for champion teams at Richmond High.

 

“People come into my store all the time and tell me stories about the great things he did for them when they were growing up,” David says, referring to Reid’s Records on Sacramento Street in Berkeley.

 

Thomas Reid Sr. arrived in the Bay Area from Georgia via stagecoach during the 1880s and launched an African American family legacy that has produced numerous sports, political, literary and business figures over subsequent decades.

 

Mel Reid and his wife Betty opened Reid’s Records in June 1945, and it now stands as the second oldest record store in the United States. Betty Reid Soskin still owns the business, but she turned over management of the shop – which specializes in gospel CDs, songbooks, choir robes and other religious accouterments – to their son David 25 years ago.

 

Today, at age 93, Soskin is the oldest active park ranger in the U.S., working at Rosie the Riveter WII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond.

 

David is determined to carry on traditions associated with his parents, as well as those of his late great-uncle Paul Reid.

 

Paul worked as a gospel disc jockey on KRE (then KWBR and KDIA) from the early ‘50s into the mid-‘60s and produced annual choir competitions at the Oakland Auditorium. Mel Reid sponsored his uncle’s “Religious Gems” program and also promoted gospel concerts at the auditorium featuring such giants of the genre as Rev. C.L. Franklin and his then-teenage daughter Aretha, Rev. James Cleveland, the Staple Singers, Caravans and Davis Sisters.

 

With help from his daughter Kokee, David now broadcasts his own “Religious Gems” program every Sunday morning from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on KZCT-FM in Vallejo.

 

Tickets for the Charles Reid Gospel Festival are $45 and $55, and can be purchased at www.reidsrecords.com.

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