EMBRACING DIVERSITY THROUGH ART, CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Midtown Summerfest Returns To Historic Sistrunk Boulevard
As the center of commerce, tourism and culture in Broward County, the City of Fort Lauderdale has taken center stage as a city of diversity and inclusiveness. With over 180,000 residents and over 10 million visitors each year hailing from around the world, Fort Lauderdale is the largest of Broward County’s 30 municipalities and the seventh largest city in Florida.
With an ever-changing demographic, the City has risen to the occasion and brought to life numerous events, community-building projects and outreach to ensure that residents and visitors feel a part of the community-at-large.
The City has just completed a monumental infrastructure project in the Northwest area that is home to the city’s largest African-American population. The Sistrunk Boulevard Infrastructure Project infused more than $15 million into the community and has created a new look for the area. The project included on-street parking, wider sidewalks, decorative streetlights, median and landscape enhancements, new bus shelters, and in some areas the undergrounding of power lines.
Before, during and after the infrastructure project, Sistrunk Boulevard has been and will continue to be a mecca for cultural enrichment, historic events and community-building activities.
- Historic Sistrunk Parade and Festival
- Light Up Sistrunk
- Midtown Summerfest on Historic Sistrunk Boulevard
- Martin Luther King Parade and Non-Violence Rally
- Dillard Homecoming Parade
- District III Commissioner Bobby B. DuBose Crime Walk – Walk As One, A Community Moving Forward
- Dorsey Riverbend Crime Walk
The Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Village Community Redevelopment Agency (NWPF CRA) has been hands on in the community from its inception. Apart from leading the Sistrunk Boulevard Infrastructure Project, the NWPF CRA found its niche in assisting business development along with its mission of revitalization. Realizing that the revitalization of the area could not occur without sound businesses, either national chains or locally owned, the NWPF CRA set out to educate and support. Developing numerous programs that entrepreneurs as well as established businesses can take advantage of was the goal and to that end, a business platform has been established.
- Free Business Seminars & Small Business Expo
The business seminars and expos offer businesses throughout Fort Lauderdale a learning opportunity on general business practices and trends, while providing a forum to network with other business owners and leaders in their respective fields.
- BizSmart Program
BIZSmart is an initiative developed to promote outreach and educate the business, development and contractor community as well as commercial leaders within the City on current procedural and regulatory trends and changes through the “BIZSmart HOW TO Series.”
- Small Business Plan Development Initiative
For many small businesses, the creation of a professionally developed business plan is simply out of reach. The NWPF CRA has partnered with the Department of Commerce to provide assistance through the Minority Business Development Corporation to assist business owners write professionally developed business plans.
- Business Marketing and Promotion
To assist with increasing foot traffic to a particular business in need, NWPF funds are routinely spent on basic items such as flyers, tri-fold brochures, retail circulars and event promotion materials to help market the businesses in the redevelopment area.
Understanding business is just one of the many avenues that promotes and improves diversity and inclusion, the NWPF CRA, along with community leaders and community investors assisted with the development of the first grocery store the Northwest Area. The area was commonly referred to as a food desert, due to the fact that Northwest Fort Lauderdale residents did not have immediate access to healthy food choices or nationally-recognized franchises.
With the opening of the Shoppes on Arts Avenue, which currently is home to Save-A-Lot grocery store, Family Dollar and Bank of America, these residents now have the opportunity to shop and bank in their own backyard. Moreover, this new center of commerce allows for residents who might not otherwise stop in the area to have a destination in the Northwest. Having this new development come to fruition realizes a dream that many thought they would never achieve.
Sistrunk Boulevard is in the heart of the Northwest Progresso Flagler Heights CRA (NWPF CRA). The mission of the NWPF CRA is to revitalize and rebuild, restore and renew, and reconnect the present and future to the past.
Known for art, music and culture, Sistrunk Boulevard and the Northwest was home to Cannonball Adderley, the Victory Theater, and the Windsor Club where artists like Duke Ellington and Ray Charles performed. Today art lovers can visit the newly opened Midtown Commerce Center for regular art shows by local artists. For history buffs, the Eula Johnson House Welcome Center and NAACP Headquarters houses much of Fort Lauderdale Civil Rights history and the African American Research Library covers both art and history.
Sistrunk Boulevard is definitely back and better than ever. This is the place for opportunity – opportunity for an area that once housed doctor’s offices, and law firms and restaurants and jazz clubs returning to the place where people can again live, eat, work and play without having to travel far distances. This is the place for opportunity – opportunity for the up and coming businessman/developer to bring ideas to the table about new sustainable, economic development projects for the area. This is the place for opportunity for the young college student to be able to return home and work in his or her community because a place for positive growth and development has been created.
With the community and the City of Fort Lauderdale working together, Sistrunk Boulevard can take its rightful place as a destination because of its top of the line, second to none venues and events. Residents and visitors from around the country, state and neighboring counties can join the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and Dickey Consulting Services for the 2ND ANNUAL MIDTOWN SUMMERFEST ON HISTORIC SISTRUNK BOULEVARD.
The 2ND ANNUAL MIDTOWN SUMMERFEST EVENT, with headliner act Howard Hewett, takes place Friday, August 2 from 4:00 to 11:00 pm on Sistrunk Boulevard between NW 9th Avenue and NW 12th Avenue.
MIDTOWN SUMMERFEST is the culmination of a week of tennis presented by the American Tennis Association and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. Over 2000 tennis aficionados will take Friday night to relax and enjoy music, food, merchandise vendors, a Caribbean zone and sorority and fraternity row with residents and our friends and neighbors from all over South Florida.
According to one Rolling Stone writer, Howard Hewett is the premier vocalist in the post – Marvin Gaye era of romantic pop. Like Gaye, Hewett soars to new heights and seduces his audience. It is no wonder he’s responsible for selling some ten million records; his voice is irresistible. Howard Hewett is one of the most talented soul singers of the past two decades. In group settings, as a guest vocalist and as a solo singer, Hewett’s virtually irresistible voice has wrapped itself around material of various quality turning good songs into great records.
The entertainment lineup this year is a tremendous one.
At 4:00 PM, THE WOODS, GOSPEL QUARTET opens the main stage. Hailing from Hollywood, Florida, The Woods Gospel Quartet brings you gospel music with passion and earnest love for their heavenly father.
They have performed and toured with Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee, The Mighty Clouds of Joy and countless other well-known musicians and artists.
Their 2006 release titled God Is With Us captured “the true perfect blend of harmony and quartet style music that is instantly recognizable and enjoyed by any listener.” Their musicians blend strings and horns into many of the arrangements. Rarely do you hear quartet groups using horns and strings to the extent they did on their 2006 project.
The Woods are brothers, Laverne, Sherman, Darin, and Anthony Pitts. They feature great testimonial songs such as “Jesus You Been Good To Me,” “Oh Give Thanks,” “Troubles of the World,” “Walk Me Through,” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”
At 5:00 PM, JORDAN GRIZZLE heats up the main stage with a performance likened to that of Usher. Natural talents like Jordan Grizzle’s come just once or twice in a generation. At only 16 years old, this singing, dancing dynamo is reminiscent of fabled kid prodigies Michael Jackson and Chris Brown.
Since the age of three, THE TALENTED FORT LAUDERDALE NATIVE has been singing and imitating performances for family and friends around the house. At 5, Jordan discovered that he could sing. And he did… a pretty good job at it. By the first grade, Jordan had developed a serious discipline for the craft of music. He taught himself different sounds and runs by studying videos of different artists.
In 2007, at the age of 13, Jordan finally decided to officially pursue a career in music. With the support of his parents, he teamed up with local producers to record his first song, “No More.” Several people caught wind of the song and immediately began labeling him “the next kid star” – and he hadn’t even performed in public yet!
Still, the buzz continued to build around the city, especially as Jordan began performing at schools, outdoor events, and churches. However, his career really took flight when he began posting videos of him singing on YouTube. He has gotten millions of views since that first video and is known as “the little boy on YouTube,” “Mr. YouTube,” and “that cute little kid.”
Jordan indeed loves to sing, but he admits he’s drawn to good dancing and writing. “When I watch a singer with good dancers, I can’t pay attention to the singer because I’m always interested in looking at the dancers and processing their lyrics,” he says.
It’s Jordan’s natural balance of both dancing and singing that leaves quite an impression when he performs. The 16-year old has appeared on various BET shows like The Bobby Jones Show, 106 and Park, and Rip The Runway. His performance skills attract the attention of many and are truly helping him to make his mark in the music industry.
When asked “What makes you different from other teen singers,” Jordan replied saying; “Being Jordan Grizzle is what separates me from the rest of the young singers. I am 16 but I have a sound unlike any other teen my age. I have a very soulful voice that’s very jazzy and yet powerful. I am very to the point and I am about my music. I love to sing, but I also write. I have a young, fresh, new face to bring to the table and I am my own gimmick. If I couldn’t sing I really wouldn’t know what to do. Music is my outlet for feelings and entertainment and it keeps me sane. My music shows love, peace, serenity, and it’s real. That’s what I represent and why I’m not your average teen.”
At 6:30 pm, NIKKI KIDD, takes us to another place and time with a little jazz. Nikki Kidd has been singing since the age of four. Born and raised in Miami Beach Florida with Jamaican heritage, she started performing in Church and School. By High School her talents and passion for music and performing were developing even more.
Nikki, having come from such a diverse background, taste’s in music range from Gospel to Classical, Reggae, Pop, Rock, R&B and Jazz. As a vocalist in the Rock Ensemble at Miami Beach High led by Doug Burris, Nikki mastered her own unique stage presence. The way she commands the stage makes her performances a show NOT to miss!
After graduating from High School Nikki picked up the guitar while interning the Honor Academy in Texas, it is also where she began song writing. Attending the University of Miami Nikki not only developed an even keener ear for Jazz, but picked up the piano. At the University of Miami Nikki studied with critically acclaimed Jazz musicians Kevin Mahogany, Kurt Elling and John Secada. Since earning her Bachelor’s degree in Studio Music and Jazz Voice as well and a Minor in Music Business, she has been performing all over South Florida, working with professional artists like reggae star Bruck Up, to studio session for Emilio Estefan at Crescent Moon Studios in Miami. Nikki also has worked with the Florida Grand Opera in their production of Aida at Grand Opening of the Performing Arts Center in Downtown Miami, as well as being a background vocalist for Gloria Estefan and Michael Buble. She has also found a passion for teaching voice and currently teaches at her home studio and the School of Rock.
Nikki currently performs at various South Florida hot spots such as, Jazid, The Van Dyke Cafe, Bardot, Jada Coles, Blue Martini’s, Balans Lounge, and has residency at the Isle Casino in Pompano with her band- The Nikki Kidd Band! Be sure to catch Nikki and her band at an upcoming performing and when she isn’t rockin’ it with her band she’s working on her originals and working in the studio!
At 7:30 pm, the OL SKOOL GANG brings back R & B and soulful sounds. The Old Skool Gang performs Motown’s greatest hits. Their repertoire includes songs from The Temptations, The Ojays, Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, Teddy Pendergrass, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Spinners, The Manhattans, Al Green, The Impressions, Levert and many more.
“OSG” (Old Skool Gang) is the brainchild of Entertainment Executive, and former KC and the Sunshine Band Member, “Paul Lewis”. Paul’s musical career spans four decades of incredible success. As a single artist he recorded and performed – Around The World, Lady I Love You, Girl You Need A Change Of Mind, and Inner City Blues. As the lead singer and producer of the hit group “Bassix” they came out with songs like – Tears of A Clown, Fake N Move, Pump Up The Motown; with the R&B group “RPM” , group produced – As One “ The Wedding Song”; and as an original member of the group KC and the Sunshine Band, everyone remembers – Get Down Tonight, That’s The Way I Like It, Boogie Shoes, Shake Your Booty and I’m Your Boogie Man.
Paul decided to team up with three gentlemen that have also had illustrious careers in the entertainment industry. Members include: Darrick Gaye, Troy McCray and Craig Williams. Together these “Men of Music” make a powerful point, that Old Skool music is best done by those that helped create and refine it.
This special family of entertainers and musicians will make you glad that you had the chance to witness MUSICAL MAGIC. So let’s go back in the day where music was passionate, meaningful, and fun. Let the Old Skool Gang take you back and help you make new memories.
At 9:30 pm, HOWARD HEWETT brings his talent to Sistrunk! Raised in Akron, Ohio, Hewett moved to Los Angeles in 1976, where he met John and Alonzo Daniels, owners of an historical club in the LA Crenshaw district, called Maverick’s Flat. It was at Maverick’s that Hewett first met Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley (eventually Shalamar). Hewett and the Daniels brothers formed a show group called “Beverly Hills” and through Daniels bookings toured throughout Europe, the UK, Scandinavia and Asia for all of 1978 till the middle of 1979.
After returning from overseas, Hewett started recording for Jeffrey Bowen, a Motown producer (The Temptations, Commodores, Bonnie Pointer) who was working on a solo project on guitarist Eddie Hazel (Parliament-Funkadelic). Hewett never completed the project because towards the end of 1979, he got a call from Jeffrey Daniel, who was on the road with Shalamar in the middle of a promotional tour. They had suddenly found themselves in need of a lead singer and Daniel made Hewett an offer that he accepted. Within three days Hewett flew to New Jersey, where he met up with Watley and Daniel, rehearsed the lip synch and choreography to the current Shalamar single “Take That To The Bank”, and found himself in front of a TV camera on a local dance show in Paterson, New Jersey. They completed the promotional tour and returned to Los Angeles and immediately started recording the Big Fun LP with their producer, Leon Sylvers. The trio went on to record songs such as “Second Time Around”, “Make That Move”, “A Night to Remember”, “Dancing in the Sheets” and the ballad “This Is for the Lover in You”. Hewett was the group’s lead singer from 1979 until 1985.
When Shalamar broke up in the mid-1980s, Hewett went on to a successful solo career. Hewett signed his solo deal with Elektra Records and in1986 released his first solo album, I Commit To Love (R&B number 12), a solid urban album that yielded two R&B hits, “I’m For Real” (R&B number 2) and “Stay” (R&B number 8). The album also included “Say Amen”; a gospel tune that became a surprise hit on the Gospel as well as Urban charts and is one of Hewett’s many signature songs.
In 1990, Hewett released a self-titled album, which included the hit “Show Me” (R&B number 2), and 1992 saw the release of the LP Allegiance, which was not received as well as previous albums. He contributed to the second season theme song of “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”, which was a remake of Sam & Dave’s R&B Top 10 hit “Soul Man”. This recording was produced by singer Steve Tyrell.
After 1995’s It’s Time (released by Caliber Records in the US and Expansion Records in the UK), Hewett spent much of his time providing guest vocals on albums by jazz artists such as Joe Sample, Brian Culbertson, and George Duke, among others. In 2000, The Rippingtons featured Hewett on “I Found Heaven” on their Life in the Tropics album. In 2001, Hewett recorded his first full gospel album, The Journey, followed a year later by The Journey Live: From the Heart.
In October 2006, Hewett released a new single, “Enough” (with jazz legend George Duke), which has received substantial play on urban contemporary and R&B radio stations. Hewett is signed to The Groove Records, an independent label based in Los Angeles. In October 2008, Hewett released his long-awaited Christmas CD, Howard Hewett Christmas, which combines his soulful R&B voice with classic Christmas songs. Working with music greats Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, and new vocal sensation Jasselle, who provides a Latin flair, Hewett proves that his music style remains classic, offering a message that reignites the spirit of Christmas. In 2009 he recorded a duet with soul singer Teena Marie, “Lover’s Lane”, on her album Congo Square.
Hewett now enjoys recording at his leisure and touring the US and overseas.
Tickets for the event will be available at Hot 105, Midtown Commerce Center, Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant, Ivory’s, Mondo Cafe and other locations throughout South Florida.
Sistrunk Boulevard has a lot to offer, so we invite you to come, visit and stay for a while. Soak up the history, the culture and the people.