…AND STEPHANIE MILLS! JAZZ IN THE GARDENS 2019 IS NOW IN THE BOOKS
BY LISA ROGERS-CHERRY
It was another exciting year in Miami Gardens with lots of popular acts in the Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) lineup. This year’s acts included Black Violin, Tye Tribbett, the Jazz in the Gardens AllStars with Maysa, Chieli Minucci, Gerald Veasley, Lao Tizer, Nelson Rangell, Teddy Riley & Friends featuring Blackstreet with Teddy Riley, Dave Hollister, Bobby Brown, Doug E. Fresh, En Vogue, Jagged Edge, Stephanie Mills, The O’Jays, Brandy, and Lionel Richie.
The audience was constantly laughing hysterically at the jokes of returning JITG emcee, stand-up comedian, television host, actor, and radio personality Rickey Smiley, who kept the show moving.
Miami native Tishria Mindingall said, “I always enjoy the food and the family reunion atmosphere. I really enjoyed Maysa, some of the local talent and the mighty O’Jays.”
Back in the food section, we noticed several more conch booths this year. Conch salad and conch fritters seem to always be a top seller. Concertgoers were happy with the wider variety and shorter lines.
In addition to the conch, there were plenty of tasty treats like smoked turkey legs, jerk chicken wings, coconut shrimp, seafood platters, fried crab legs, mac and cheese, bar-b-que ribs, lobster corn dogs, chicken on a stick, roasted corn on the cob, tropical slushies, dessert in a jar, and bread pudding.
On Vendor Row, there were African clothes, distinguished eyewear, hair care, natural body oils, soaps, handmade jewelry, leather earrings, fancy hats, non-profit organizations, and beautiful artwork.
One of the standouts on Vendor Row was Artist Carl M. Crawford, a native of Columbia, S.C. His company is called Collage Illusion.
“Everything has its own creative beauty,” Carl explained. “Life is creativity manifested. As an artist, my desire is to reflect the beauty of the human experience by giving form to my own creative vision.
“The challenge is paying close attention to the details of each piece. Every color matters; the position matters.”
His color choices and his beautiful work caused concert attendees to stop and make a purchase. He took the time to talk to each person who stopped to view his art. You could feel his passion as he described his inspiration for various pieces.
Many concertgoers came to see one specific act, but were pleasantly surprised by others.
The Black Violins are both Fort Lauderdale Dillard High School alumni. This dynamic hip-hop duo comprised of two classically-trained string instrumentalists wowed the crowd with their exciting performance.
Stephanie Mills seemed to be the showstopper for Day 1 of the festival. She sang the song “Home” just like she did when she was 25 years old. She introduced her backup singers, and they each sang better than the previous one ‒ with the exception of her son Jason, who totally wrecked the place and made the audience go wild.
Felice Winston Davis was grooving to one of her favorite groups, Jagged Edge. She shared, “They have amazing stage presence and the still have their ‘chops’ after all these years.” They rocked the crowd with hits including “Let’s Get Married” and “Where the Party At.”
Amy Dawkins, a return attendee, exclaimed, “Good thing Doug E. Fresh was last, because it was 1 a.m. and he was still going strong. It was a perfect ending to a fantastic day!”
On Day 2, gospel recording artist and current Orlando pastor Tye Tribbett was a crowd pleaser and got the audience up on their feet with his popular hit, “He Turned It.”
The O’Jays had the crowd moving and grooving. Shari Haywood stated, “Their performance takes you back down memory lane. Lots of good wholesome music and love songs.”
“Lionel Richie hasn’t aged one bit. He is still doing his thing,” said Michelle Wilcox, who also enjoyed the music. She was happy to attend the festival with some of her family and enjoyed seeing people having a great time together.
The weather was perfect. The food was delicious. There was an assorted variety of vendors. The energizing vibe at the 14th Annual Jazz in the Gardens was tremendous. You could feel it when you arrived and as you left.
This was another fabulous festival in the books.