More than 73,000 attended the recent Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) music festival as the City of Miami Gardens celebrated the festival's 10th anniversary March 21 and 22. Approximately 42,000 festival-goers attended Saturday's show, the first sold-out day in the history of the event. A-list musical talent continues to attract more and more attendees every year. Once a festival of roughly 1,800 patrons in a corner of Sun Life Stadium's parking lot, JITG is now the fastest growing jazz and R&B music festival in the nation.
This year's lineup featured Maxwell, Erykah Badu, R. Kelly, Toni Braxton, Run D.M.C., Brian Culbertson, Sheila E., Men of Soul's Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, and Freddie Jackson, and Jazz in the Gardens All Stars Ronnie Laws, Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Tom Browne. Comedians and nationally-syndicated radio personalities D.L. Hughley and Rickey Smiley co-hosted the festival.
"This year's attendance was unprecedented, and our lineup of musical talent was second to none, a fitting tribute to our 10th year of producing an incredible festival experience," said City of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. "This is our signature event and we are so proud that people from all over the world look forward to attending every year."
The event also drew celebrities including actors Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett, who star as Hakeem and Jamal, respectively, on the new, red-hot, Fox television series "Empire." They were among several notables who made on-stage cameo appearances, including reality TV star Angela Simmons, J. Anthony Brown, co-host of "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," and Sybrina Fulton, founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation and mother of Trayvon Martin.
JITG also featured local artists, soul singer Valerie Tyson, saxophonist John Erinosho and Karina Iglesias of NBC's "The Voice," along with more than 40 exotic food vendors, a Vendor Marketplace, and the most anticipated lineup for the City's milestone 10th year celebration.
The City of Miami Gardens was born in 2003 and the then City Council sought to create a signature event for the largest predominantly African-American municipality in Florida, which is also the third largest in the United States. In 2006, the City of Miami Gardens presented the inaugural Jazz in the Gardens, an intimate jazz-only festival featuring food and music, setting the foundation for the decade-long, signature experience that followed, adding R&B to the lineup.
In response to the popularity of the festival, the City of Miami Gardens has added two events to the JITG Weekend: The Women's Impact Conference & Luncheon (WICL) which kicked off the Weekend Friday morning and included an Author's Lounge and keynote address by Omarosa Manigault; On Friday night, the Opening Night Party gave a preview of the city's two-day fest and featured the D.M.C. Band and a comedy show hosted by "The Rickey Smiley Morning Show" crew.
JITG is unlike any other festival in the nation. From the lineup, to the food, to the weather, the JITG weekend is an unparalleled experience. By its explosive growth in just 10 years, it is certain that JITG is an experience that has earned its stripes, while its guests have earned their tan lines and enjoyed the camaraderie and first class performances year after glorious year.
[Photos top to bottom: Toni Braxton, Jeffrey Osborne, Sheila E & Howard Hewett, Peabo Bryson, Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Brian Culberton, Freddie Jackson, D.L. Hughley)