Celebrities of the old school have descended on the City of Miami Gardens for the 14th Annual Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) music festival. Lionel Richie, Brandy, and Stephanie Mills are among the headliners gracing the stage at this year's weekend-long show, pegged as Miami Gardens' signature event…that is until it is upstaged by Superbowl 2020 next year.
Mayor Oliver Gilbert and singer Stephanie Mills
Other celebrity performers on the JITG roster this year are Bobby Brown, En Vogue and Jagged Edge, Blackstreet with Teddy Riley and Dave Hollister, Guy, Black Violin, Tye Tribbett, the O'Jays, Doug E. Fresh, Maysa, and many others.
Jazz in the Gardens, which has about 30 major sponsors, celebrates a young, progressive South Florida city carving its place in a lifestyle-rich region where tourism dominates and the loyalty of ethnically diverse locals helps to drive city economies. About 40 percent of JITG attendees are tourists. Its local participants are as diverse as the food so prominently displayed among the event's vendors.
L to R: Scott Gartner, Executive Producer Jazz in the Gardens; Ricky Smiley, JITG Host, Entertainer and Host of the Rickey Smiley Morning Show; Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert; Stephani Mills, Singer and JITG Headliner; Connie Kinnard, Vice President of Multicultural Tourism & Development for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Alechia Reese, host for the JITG press conference.
The food, the music, and the warmth among participants help to create shared experiences and memories that keep people coming back each year. The most memorable thing about Jazz in the Gardens is not just the wonderful performers and celebrities, "it's the feeling you get just walking through the crowds and talking to the people," said Mayor Oliver "OG" Gilbert at a pre-event press conference also attended by JITG host and entertainer Rickey Smiley and Singers Stephanie Mills and Betty Wright.
As a prelude to his comedic hosting skills Smiley recalled a warm memory of JITG past when between sets a grandmother handed him a fish sandwich from one of the vendors. "She watched me eating it from the top of her glasses and it was the warmest feeling I've ever had," he said, jokingly. "It was like when Jesus fed the multitudes."
Joining in on the banter, Stephanie Mills said she hopes the audience feels her love of performing when she hits the stage on Saturday. "I've rehearsed and rehearsed to sound somewhat like I did back in the day," she said, laughing. And what has kept her growing strong all these years? "I always did what I wanted to do as opposed to what they wanted me to do," she said.
Social media -- #jitg2019.
Make sure to purchase tickets to Jazz in the Gardens via www.jazzinthegardens.com