Jazz In The Gardens (JITG) Music Festival is a vibe that’s like nothing else you will ever experience. It’s a vibe that allows you to go to the festival alone, or come with a friend. If you attend alone, rest assured there are people that will dance and sing with you, and if you attend with a friend you will leave with more friends, because it’s not just a concert, it’s a complete experience, promises Oliver Gilbert III, City of Miami Gardens mayor.
In its 15th year, JITG promises something special with a stellar lineup – Mary J. Blige, the most requested artist in JITG history who is expected to tear up the stage in her repeat appearance; Jill Scott, one of the most talented artists in the world will again grace the stage; as well as H.E.R.; then there’s everyone’s favorite uncle, Charlie Wilson who, after multiple appearances at the festival, never disappoints; The Roots with Bilal; Stokely from Mint Condition; SWV; and Kirk Franklin bringing the gospel – with more artist announcements expected prior to the March 14-15 festival at Hard Rock Stadium.
Comedian Rickey Smiley will once again return as host of the event that this year will be produced by Live Nation Urban and Live Nation Miami.
JITG is the City of Miami Gardens’ special way of saying hello to the world, according to the City of Miami Gardens mayor. And Bahamians are among the thousands flocking to JITG in droves to take in the city’s signature event.
For the 11th year, The Nassau Guardian and Star 106 Hits has partnered with Bahamasair, Comfort Suites Sawgrass and Dollar Thrifty Hertz to give Bahamians the opportunity to take in this amazing experience that Tony Williams, Star programming director describes as “fantastic” after the initial lineup was announced by Gilbert.
“This is going to be a fantastic show and they haven’t finished naming the artists yet,” said Williams. “I want to see Uncle Charlie. I enjoy him every time I see him. And Mary J. Blige – I just love her … you get so much emotion from her because she puts herself into the performance because she tells her life story. Jill Scott is great. And Kirk Franklin is going to be a really upbeat performance. They will definitely name some locals and from past experiences the local acts have been really good and to be looked forward to.”
JITG is a show that Williams said he definitely looks forward to annually, but he said he’s most excited to partner with Jazz In The Gardens to give The Nassau Guardian readers and Star 106 Hits listeners the opportunity to enjoy a great show and experience.
“Very seldom do you get the opportunity to see this many artists together – and so for me to be able to do this for our readers and listeners is a real treat. Through our partnership with Jazz In The Gardens we can give them an opportunity to see the best show in town in the City of Miami Gardens.”
While random concert ticket winners will be announced daily from The Nassau Guardian and Star 106 Hits in the weeks leading up to the festival, the grand prize winners who will receive airfare, concert tickets, accommodations and car rental, will be drawn on Thursday, March 5, to give winners a one-week turnaround. Williams encourages people to read The Nassau Guardian and listen to Star 106 Hits to find out how they can win.
Woodrow “Woody” Wilson, Bahamasair senior consultant, sales and marketing, said at the national airline they look forward to partnering with The Nassau Guardian and Star 106 Hits every year for JITG.
“This is one of our major events because we know it’s an event the Bahamian public looks forward to, and we look forward to providing the public with the best rates out there to take them to Jazz In The Gardens. We’ve been a partner from day one, and as long as The Nassau Guardian and Star are promoting Jazz In The Gardens, we will be there with them.”
He said Bahamasair will offer a rate starting at $242 inclusive of all taxes for JITG for people from New Providence as well as Grand Bahama.
As usual, Wilson and Bahamasair have partnered with hotels in Florida to provide special rates for Bahamians flying in for the popular music festival and have negotiated special rates at Comfort Suites Sawgrass at $109 plus tax per night, and at the Holiday Inn on 103rd Street at $129 plus tax.
Wilson, a huge fan of JITG, says he’s looking forward to seeing Charlie Wilson perform again.
“I look forward to seeing Uncle Charlie every year, he’s my favorite. I don’t care how many times I see him he puts on such a show. They don’t make music like that anymore,” he said.
This year’s lineup came a little later than usual, but the wait was worth it when the roster was finally revealed.
Brittany Flores, Live Nation Miami president said Live Nation was honored to partner with the City of Miami Gardens for the 15th anniversary of JITG.
“We have been outsiders looking in for quite some time – we look to make this the best year yet, joining forces with the city and creating a spectacular event.”
Shawn Gee, Live Nation Urban president, who is also an artist manager, spoke to the gem that JITG is and the fact that artists want to play the event.
“As I was booking Mary J. Blige this year, I called her manager who is a good friend of mine, I said ‘I have this event, it’s in March’. She’s checking Mary’s avails and went on with ‘Mary’s busy, she’s shooting her TV series, and don’t really have a lot of time’. And I said, ‘Well, it’s Jazz In The Gardens’. She paused and said ‘Let me call you right back’. Literally, Mary is shooting all week until Friday, jump on a plane, fly down, perform and then jump back on a plane and go back to set.
“This is the impact the festival has within the artists and manager and agent space,” said Gee.
Gee, who over the years managed two of the artists in this year’s lineup – The Roots and Jill Scott – recalled The Roots playing JITG two years ago, and Quest Love after his set taking it all in. Gee remembered looking at Love as he walked off and asking him why it was his first time playing JITG, with Love expressing his want to return.
As fans prepare for the 15th edition of the popular festival, the City of Miami Gardens mayor reminded them of where the music event came from; that JITG was literally a garden that emerged from concrete and that he wasn’t on the City Council when initially created.
“Shirley Gibson went to the Riviera Beach Jazz Concert they had on the beach, and she said ‘We can do this in Miami Gardens’. And I said ‘Well, where would you do it?’ She said ‘The stadium’. I said ‘Where in the stadium?’… I was thinking inside the stadium, she said ‘We can do it right here in the parking lot, all you need is land’. The idea that you could look out at what was just a parking lot and create what’s become an extraordinary, world-renowned musical entertainment venue destination was extraordinary foresight from her and the initial council persons.”
Gilbert said 15 years in, sometimes it’s easy for people to say everyone loves JITG, but he reminded them of the fact that in the early years, people took a lot of heat for the now-popular music festival.
“Everyone didn’t like it,” he reminded them, but said the music festival is popular now, and a testament to what can be done when people believe in themselves, each other, and believe in a place.
“You can create virtually anything if you’re persistent. That’s why I thank them for their vision and their persistence,” said Gilbert. “We don’t just do Jazz In The Gardens in Miami Gardens. This is a whole week of extraordinary events.”
JAZZ IN THE GARDENS
When: March 14-15
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
Tickets: $99-$602 online via ticketmaster at www.jazzinthegardens.com