Jazz in the Gardens has evolved and so has its lineup of musical acts

Written By Jonel Juste
March 8, 2023 at 9:51 PM

LaVie is appearing in this year’s “Jazz in the Gardens” along with other local artists and big names such as Jill Scott, Jodeci and Erykah Badu. The festival is Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12 at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photo courtesy of JITG)

There’s a reason for the longevity of Miami Gardens’ biggest music party, Jazz in the Gardens. The success of the event lies, according to Rodney Harris, the mayor of the city of Miami Gardens, in “giving people what they want: unforgettable entertainment, exotic food, and a good time.”

The two-day festival on Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12, is at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, where it got its start in 2006 when the venue was Dolphins Stadium.

Singer, songwriter, model, poet and actress Jill Scott is one of the music festival’s headliners who will be performing on Saturday, March 11. (Photo courtesy of JITG)

Hailed as a celebration of Black music and culture, Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) touts a diverse lineup of both new and old school rhythm and blues, neo-soul, reggae, and gospel artists, and, this year, aligns performers such as Jill Scott, Jodeci, Ari Lennox, El Debarge, and Adam Blackstone on Saturday, then and Erykah Badu, Sean Paul, Mike Phillips, Chandler Moore, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard and Pastor Mike Jr. on Sunday.

“We have grown from a small (one day) local jazz festival in 2006 with barely 1,000 people in attendance, to a massive . . . .mega entertainment brand that has attracted over 70,000 weekend-ticket buyers,” says Harris. The city organizes the music fest in partnership with Live Nation Entertainment and Live Nation Urban.

The festival returned in 2022 after taking a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19.

Born and raised in Miami Gardens, Jody Hill performs at Jazz in the Gardens. Photo courtesy of JITG)

Harris says the festival grew along with the city of Miami Gardens, which is celebrating its 20 years of incorporation as the 33rd city in Miami-Dade County.

“(The) spirit of evolving excellence has been passed down to our signature event, Jazz in the Gardens.”

It was the idea of the city’s first leader, Mayor Shirley Gibson, and received support from the City Council at that time, with the aim of showcasing Miami Gardens as “where you want to be,” says Harris. “The festival has helped us magnify our profile globally,” he says.

Although jazz was the original focus of “Jazz in the Gardens,’ the organizers gradually began including a variety of genres in response to public demand. Harris says that’s reflective of the diverse tastes of its attendees.

The Queen of Neo Soul, Erykah Badu, takes to the Jazz in the Gardens stage on Sunday, March 11. (Courtesy of JITG)

“JITG is, at its heart, a good ole’ family reunion,” says Harris, while adding that the festival attracts big names in the music industry.

“They leave the snow for the sunshine of South Florida and the excitement of JITG.”

In addition to renowned performers, the festival also showcases local artists. Jody Hill, who is participating in the festival for the second time, says it is an exhilarating experience to perform alongside other musicians “who have shaped the way we experience music.”

For Hill and other local artists, the festival provides an opportunity to share the stage with big-name talents and connect with a wider audience.

“I remember feeling inexplicably thrilled, knowing that one of my dreams had come true,” says the recording artist and songwriter, who was born and raised in Miami Gardens. “Being asked to participate in yet another JITG festival far exceeded my expectations, and I’m simply grateful for the ongoing support.” Hill performs in the Sunday, March 12 lineup.

Local artist April RaQuel performs for her second time at “Jazz in the Gardens,” on Saturday, March 11. (Photo courtesy of JITG)

April RaQuel performed at Jazz in the Gardens in 2016 and returns this year as a local, featured artist on Saturday, March 11.

“I will never forget the experience. It was the first time I had the opportunity to perform in front of an audience of that size, on a stage that big, and as a part of an event of this magnitude,” says the “proud native of South Florida.”

WHAT:  Jazz in the Gardens 2023

WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Drive, Miami Gardens

WHEN: Parking lot opens at 2 p.m., gates at 3 p.m., performances begin at 4 p.m., Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12

COST: Tickets range in price from $105 for single-day general admission to $135 for 2-day passes (fees not included). One day reserved seat ticket prices are $150, $160, $170, $180, $250, and $260. 2-day ticket prices for reserved are $195, $205, $225, $235, $325

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