By Bella Callejas
Miami Times Staff Writer
South Florida is about to commemorate Black History Month in style.
February is a time when the contributions and sacrifices of Black Americans are recognized here and across the country, and this year will be no different. Locally, a wide variety of cultural fare is approaching, with events featuring dance, visual arts, food and music collectively acknowledging and reflecting this year’s national theme, “African Americans and the Arts.”
Here is The Miami Times’ list of top picks for celebrating Black History Month.
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is offering a dynamic lineup that includes mesmerizing performances from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the fifth annual Heritage Fest, the soulful tunes of Gregory Porter and Free Gospel Sundays’ 15th Anniversary Celebration.
On Feb. 2-3, Alvin Ailey takes the stage at the Ziff Ballet Opera House as part of the company’s 65th anniversary season. Its three performances will include new works and classics such as “Revelations” and “Ode,” choreographed by Miami native Jamar Roberts, the company’s first resident choreographer.
“Ode” is a contemplative reflection of life amid gun violence, set to Don Pullen’s “Suite (Sweet) Malcolm,” and the performance will include Roberts’ original costume designs.
To further celebrate the Ailey legacy, the Arsht is also offering a pre-show event in partnership with the Black Owned Media Alliance (BOMA) featuring a “Revelations” workshop. Beginning at 6 p.m., attendees can participate in a choreography class then enjoy a show from the Florida Memorial University marching band with dance and step performances. Pre-show admission is complimentary with an evening performance ticket.
On Feb. 4, Heritage Fest will take place from 3-7 p.m. in the Arsht’s outdoor Thompson Plaza. Now in its fifth year, the free event will feature a family-friendly atmosphere that includes hip-hop, musical theater, dance and yoga workshops. Also featured will be a live mural by Picardo Colours, a reading nook presented by Books & Books and various community vendors. Attendees can enjoy performances by the Miami Carol City Middle & Senior High School Marching Band, Live in Color and The W’s featuring Johnny James aka Dr. J. DJ Cardi will spin tunes throughout the event.
The festivities go on into the evening with a ticketed concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Knight Concert Hall, featuring renowned hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and the Grammy Award-winning DJ LS One.
Festivities continue with performances by Gregory Porter on Feb. 23, followed by Free
“We should celebrate Black History every single day of the year. But I would say that [the festival] is more of a reminder. We have Black History Month to celebrate, to reflect, but it’s not the only time … we should be learning about our history at all times,” said Lakeisha Frith, the Arsht’s director of education.
Alvin Ailey tickets range from $25-$125; Talib Kweli tickets range from $30-$65; and Gregory Porter tickets range from $X-$X. All may be purchased online at ArshtCenter.org or by calling 305.949.6722.
On Feb. 17, the annual Afro-Carib Festival will take place from 6-11 p.m. at the Miramar Regional Park Amphitheater. Hosted by Vice Mayor Alexandra P. Davis, the event features a stellar lineup of artists.
“We have discovered that South Florida is hungry for an entertainment event that offers this particular combination of musical genres that bring the best of Black music and culture together on one stage,” said Davis. “It has been an honor to produce an event that celebrates the African diaspora in such a beautiful way, and highlights different cultures within the diaspora through music, culture and food.”
The event highlights the fusion of African and Caribbean cultures through music featuring live performances by artists representing various genres, including Afrobeats, reggae, dancehall, konpa and more.
Audiences can enjoy performances by Nigerian Afrobeats megastar Fireboy DML, Jamaican Grammy Award winner Kabaka Pyramid, dancehall icon Nadine Sutherland, also representing Jamaica, and more.
Tickets range from $30-$150 and are available at AfroCaribFestMiramar.com. Parking is $10 in advance online or $15 at the gate.
On Feb. 11 at 3. p.m., Brévo Theatre will debut “TM Pride’s: Emancipation Blues” at the Pompano Beach Library & Cultural Arts Center. The ballet honors the resilience, courage and cultural richness of the Black community and pays tribute to the profound impact of blues music and the African American journey toward freedom.
Sponsored in part by the Broward Cultural Division, “Emancipation Blues” is a blend of artistic expression and historical narrative. The performance showcases diverse dance styles, including West African, modern, jazz, tap and hip-hop, all synchronized with poetic narration. It’s set against a backdrop of jazz works by legends Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others, elegantly portraying key historical moments from the civil rights era to the modern-day Black Lives Matter movement.
General admission tickets are $25 and available at BrevoTheatre.org.
I Dream a World Festival
New World Symphony will host I Dream a World: Mary Lou’s Harlem from Feb. 4-25, featuring a variety of programs in different locations that will pay homage to Mary Lou Williams, known as “the first lady of jazz.”
The festival kicks off Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. with a screening of the documentary “The Lady Who Swings the Band,” which features “History: A Wind Symphony,” an unfinished composition re-orchestrated by composer and Duke University professor Anthony Kelley at SoundScape Park. The film is voiced by Alfre Woodard and features performances by Grammy Award-nominated guest vocalist Carmen Lundy and musicologist Tammy Kernodle, festival curator.
On Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m., “Chamber Music: In the Land of Oo Blah Dee” will feature the works of Williams, Thelonious Mark, Valerie Coleman, David Barker and more, presented at The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown.
“Cabaret: Mary Lou’s Salon” on Feb. 22 will be led by Grammy-nominated pianist Aaron Diehl joined by New World Symphony and other guest performers for a cabaret-style show. Hosted at New World Center’s Truist Pavilion, the program features work by Monk, Coleman and more, and includes selections from Williams’ “Zodiac Suite.”
“The Soundworld of Mary Lou Williams,” Feb 24. at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 25 at 2 p.m., will be hosted at the Michael Tilson Thomas Performance Hall and led by conductor Andrew Grams. The presentation includes Lundy, the Ambassador Chorale of Florida Memorial University and the Jazz Vocal Ensemble of Florida International University. The program will present selections from Williams’ “Zodiac Suite” and “Mass.”
Only accessible to concert ticketholders, an exhibition of Williams’ artifacts will be displayed at New World Center’s atrium and Clinton Ensemble Room.
“The I Dream of World Festival is centered around a vision of amplifying and promoting voices that we often don’t hear in the traditional classical music concert hall, but to also promote the history of those artists and their lived experiences,” said Kernodle, who also collaborated in the curation of the artifacts exhibition.
Events vary in price and are available at NWS.edu.