The second weekend in March is circled permanently in red on my calendar because of Jazz in the Gardens. Jazz in the Gardens presented by Miami Gardens is almost a week-long celebration of music, culture and food that is being dubbed as “the fastest growing jazz and R&B festival in the U.S.”. For me, it’s an opportunity to be empowered, network with successful people in my area, enjoy soul music and embrace Black culture. On Jazz in the Gardens weekend, I look forward to breezy Miami weather, sexy sun-kissed people enjoying the open-air concert and the beauty of our culture that permeates the Miami Gardens skyline. It’s all love as Mayor Oliver Gilbert and his team issue social media posts, press release alerts and radio ads announcing every event related to the Jazz in the Gardens festivities. It’s something to look forward to year after year and to be inspired by when you recall the festival’s humble beginnings.
Accordingly, we were beyond stoked when Mayor Oliver Gilbert received the Presidential Award from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), and even more excited when Gilbert announced the return of the Orange Blossom Classic. Mayor Oliver Gilbert even announced the FAMU scholarship fund where a portion of the proceeds from Jazz in the Gardens ticket sales goes towards the FAMU Alum Adrian Freeman scholarship, with one student receiving a big check for $15,000 at this beautiful celebration of Black excellence. Fourteen years later, beyond the music, Jazz and the Gardens continues to deliver and surpass expectations.
Personally, I kicked off #JITG2019 with their 3rd Annual Poetry in the Gardens event, a poetry competition held at the Miami Gardens Starbucks, hosted by poet G.S. Cole. Talented spoken word artists let their words create relatable rhythmic connections with the audience. In doing so, the competition was fierce; nonetheless, local judges were able to award the top prize of $10,000.00 to Analogy; second prize to Barbara Trawick and third prize to Moses West.
#JITG2019 day one included epic performances from Stephanie Mills, Teddy Riley, Jagged Edge, En Vogue, Doug E. Fresh, Bobby Brown, Guy and Backstreet. On day two Tye Tribbett, Sherronda Daye, the O’Jays, Brandy, and Lionel Richie hit the stage performing hits, classics and audience favorites. I was even in the media tent when Platinum recording artist, Brandy, had a intimate conversation, followed by Q & A and selfies with media professionals. She spoke in depth about performing, falling on stage, her role in the hits 90s sitcom Moesha. Brandy gave us more than music – she gave us beauty, love and culture, which is what Jazz in Gardens is all about. For that reason, 14 years later, Jazz in the Gardens is drawing audiences near and far. With over 70,000 people in attendance, we continue to salute #JITG organizers on a job well done. They continue to deliver the perfect mix of live music, local eats, creative vendors and the most diverse audience Miami has ever seen.
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