In addition to beach warm days and cucumber cool evenings, spring brings my favorite time of the year, Jazz in the Gardens! With the success of their 14th annual concert this past weekend, I must salute the organizers for 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. Soul music fans and lovers of culture fly in from all over the world to vibe with us locals for a 2 day music fest. This celebration of jazz and legends has become my family reunion.
And once again, this year’s Jazz delivered a soul stirring experience. Anita Baker captured our hearts with her angelic voice, gentle spirit and her obvious desire for sound perfection. I was instantly catapulted to the first time I heard Anita. The year was 1986 when my grandma was introduced me to her “Rapture” record. I was 5 years old, and had already become obsessed with the idea of being in love. As I listened to Auntie Anita, I recalled a time when granny lived, when life was simple and tracks like, “You Bring Me Joy”, “Sweet Love” and “Same Ole Love” played on repeat. In those spring days, we sat in wicker chairs, playing checkers while cracking fresh nuts and sipping on home-made lemonade. I traveled time as Baker sang hit after the hit belting out every note in perfect pitch. Engulfed in a musical trance, Jazz in the Gardens guests including host Rickey Smiley, were reminded of previous romances and loved ones who are no longer here. None of us will ever forget that Miami spring night.
In fact, we will never forget #JITG2018 because Trombone Shorty, Fantasia, Smokey Robinson, Sug Avery, Joe, the “Mayor of Miami” Trick Daddy, Trina and Ball Greezy all delivered beyond expectation. #JITG2018 pat yourself on the back for giving us a variety of musical genres, experiences and memories that will remain with us for seasons to come. We left the Hard Rock Stadium completely full. You owe us nothing at all!
Yet, as we continue to celebrate women this month, I must #CreditHer by shouting out a few amazing women who deserve acknowledgement for their contributions to the culture. Jazz in the Gardens weekend kicked off with Poetry in the Gardens, a poetry contest phenomenally hosted by poet G.S. Cole. G.S. acknowledged women’s history month by allowing a female poet, Elaina Whorley, to open for the contest. Whorely left it all on the stage representing well for the gender! Cole also gave kudos to Starbucks store manager, “DJ” for being the venue host while rocking Suzane McDowell’s new eyeglass collection, If Eye Ever. Starbucks store manager, DJ Mitchell-Jones said, “I stopped Mayor Oliver Gilbert at a City Council Meeting and told him my ideas for using my store to activate the space.” What happened next is history thanks to DJ’s #BlackGirlForesight. In speaking with GS about the hosting the poetry contest for the 2nd year in a row, he said, “Everything I did was intentional. I am truly grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to host again and to be more involved. It is imperative that we honor women and thankfully, having such a major role in production allowed me to do just that while showcasing the art of spoken word.”
My only gripe with Jazz in the Gardens was not Chakan Khan’s performance reviews (poor auntie Khan), but actually the very little mentioning of Shirley Gibson. According to blackamericaweb.com, Gibson was the first mayor of Miami Gardens. “During her time as mayor, Gibson was able to bring new development to Miami Gardens including retail stores and national chain businesses which brought more jobs. She also lowered the crime rate and accomplished other goals, including the annual Jazz In The Gardens music festival.” By now you may have guessed, I’m sensitive about feminine oversights. While I truly enjoyed seeing Uncle Luther Campbell receive the keys to the city at Jazz, I would have loved to see Gibson receive some recognition too. So I guess, I better do it myself. In this edition of On the Scene, I #creditHer. Shirley Gibson, your love of culture, community and soul lives on! And Lord willing, I will be front and center at the next Jazz in the Gardens to witness the growth of what you pioneered.