Over 45,000 music fans attended the 6th Annual “Jazz in the Gardens” music festival in Sun Life Stadium on March 19th & 20th. The weekend long celebration brought thousands of visitors to South Florida from all over the US, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. The highly anticipated annual festival drew rave reviews from patrons, sponsors and media alike.
“I am elated about the success of Jazz in the Gardens! The event has grown and taken a life of its own, drawing people from all over the world to visit the City of Miami Gardens. I feel really good about what we have accomplished in the last six years, and I look forward to it each year and every year as do our fans,” says Mayor Shirley Gibson .
This year, popular radio personality, author and filmmaker, Michael Baisden, hosted the festivities along with his on-air comedic side kick, George Wilborn. Through his syndicated radio show Baisden reached fans all over the nation pushing the festival to greater heights.
“The 2011 Jazz in the gardens was a hit as always! Hundreds of my listeners from around the country have written me to let me know how much they enjoyed everything about the event, especially the absolutely perfect south Florida weather! I’m sure this will be a successful event for many years to come,” remarked Baisden
The undisputed favorite of the weekend was Charlie Wilson , aka “Uncle Charlie” who performed a high energy show starting with his Gap Band hit “Party Train,” accompanied by a dynamic quartet of sexy female back up dancers. Wilson got the crowd to their feet, time and time again with current chart topping “You Are” and classic hits like “Outstanding” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”.
The multi-artistic Ms. Lauryn Hill did not disappoint revelers and delivered an exceptional performance. Fans were treated to a rare performance by Hill’s MC persona “L-Boogie” performing classic Fugee songs like “How Many Mics,” “Ready or Not” and “Fu-gee-la.” In the absence of Fugee band-mates, L-Boogie met the challenge of performing verses made famous by the former bandmates.
The Isley Brothers historic performance marked the first time brothers Ernie and Ronald shared the stage in almost five years leading with the epic “Between the Sheets,” the Isleys accomplished the feat of covering fifty years of music in one performance. “You all remember these songs,” reflected an emotional Ron Isley, “my brother Ernie wrote them.” In response to the crooner belting out a medley of classics the audience was overwhelmed with nostalgia.
Heads of State, comprised Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill , formerly members of the 80’s -90s teen sensation boy band New Edition, drove the crowd into a frenzy with timeless hits “Mr. Telephone Man” and “Cool It Now.” To add to the excitement, the trio carried out an ensemble of solo hits including “My Prerogative,” “My, My, My” and “Sensitivity.” Still a sensation, it was obvious that they haven’t lost their touch or their fans.
Legendary songstress, Gladys Knight , was welcomed and revered by all. In all her glitter and glam, her presence, music and voice resonated throughout Sun Life stadium and Miami Gardens. Definitely a queen of soul, Gladys Knight owned the Jazz in the Gardens arena and rocked it!
Musiq Soulchild and En Vogue sang love ballads and dance hits from R&B and Adult Contemporary catalogues. Musiq Soulchild known for his smooth and sultry love songs and En Vogue known for their sweet sound and harmony tantalized the crowd with stellar performances. Al Jarreau, Lalah Hathaway and Branford Marsalis captured the jazz element of the festival delivering memorable performances. From 72 year old Jarreau’s signature scatting to Hathaway’s sultry vocals, these jazz greats were refreshing components of the two-day festival. During the short set changes, Miami’s D.J. Irie kept the energy hype and the party going with a mix of old school and new school hits!
“Jazz in the Gardens” owes its success to a simple formula: a star-studded line-up, great food, extraordinarily affordable ticket prices and amazing weather. For the past six years the festival has enjoyed unprecedented growth, consistently delivering stunning increases in attendance while attracting both locals and thousands of out-of-towners to the beautiful City of Miami Gardens. Previous years have included celebrated performances by A-list artists such as Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Robin Thicke, Teena Marie, Wyclef, Babyface, Kenny G., Frankie Beverly and Maze, Chaka Khan, Chrisette Michele, Common, Erykah Badu, Anthony Hamilton, and Roy Ayers to name a few.