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  • A.G. Smith

A Record Breaking 10th Anniversary for Jazz in the Gardens

Grammy award winning singer, Toni Braxton

Photo credit: A.G. Smith

Music lovers brought the thunder to the Sun Life stadium for the 10th annual Jazz in the Gardens concert event on March 21st and 22nd. Saturday’s show was the first ever sell out with approximately 42,000 attendees. In total, more than 73,000 people came to party for the weekend in Miami Gardens.

“We have great marketing, a great line-up and great weather. Who doesn’t want to come to south Florida in March? All of those things work together. It’s like the perfect storm,” said Suzan McDowell, President and Founder of Circle of One Marketing. Her team has been the agency on record for Jazz in the Gardens since its inception.

The headliners for Saturday were R. Kelly, Toni Braxton, Men of Soul featuring Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, and Freddie Jackson, and Sheila E. Sunday’s show featured Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Run DMC and Brian Culbertson. South Florida artists Valerie Tyson, Karina Iglesias and John Erinosho opened the festival’s performances. Stars Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett, who portray Hakeem and Jamal on the wildly successful Fox television series “Empire,” jumped on stage and shared a few words with the crowd. Other festival appearances included Angela Simmons, reality TV star comedian 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.

“Most of the people performing tonight bring out the ladies. I’m here for R. Kelly, he’s going to bring out the ladies,” said Patrick H., from Ft. Lauderdale.

McDowell’s team invites performers based on fans requests on social media, in text messages and emails. R.Kelly was their most requested artist. His performance ultimately received mixed reviews.

This year’s Jazz in the Gardens festivities began on Friday with two events at the Miramar Cultural Center, the Women's Impact Conference & Luncheon (WICL) and the Opening Night Party hosted by the Rickey Smiley morning show crew.

“Tourism from Jazz in the Gardens impacts Broward county and Ft. Lauderdale in a major way. Our hotels in West Broward, Central Broward, and the Hollywood area are all packed out. Our hotels were sold out much earlier than last year,” said Al Tucker, Vice President of Multicultural Business Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Comedians D.L. Hughley and Rickey Smiley co-hosted the festival and entertained the crowds in between performances. A diverse lineup of food and beverage vendors catered to lines of hungry and thirsty festival-goers; attendees had their choice from lobster and waffles to oversized frozen drinks.

“I feel great about the festival. More than it being the largest, I want the people who come to want to come back. My goal now is the same as when it started; I want you to enjoy yourself,” said Mayor Oliver Gilbert. His personal favorite performance was Erykah Badu.

“She did what Fantasia did for the audience a couple of years back; she gave them everything. She was honest, emotional and talented, and she gave everything she had to our audience,” said Gilbert.

Empire television series star, Bryshere Y. Gray

Photo credit: A.G. Smith

Grammy award winning artist, Erykah Badu

Photo credit: A.G. Smith

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