‘Juneteenth Juke Joint’ Returns as Annual Event at the Arsht

Written By Jonel Juste
June 12, 2023 at 2:54 PM

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s Ziff Ballet Opera House turns into a lively Juke Joint for a Juneteenth celebration on Wednesday, June 14. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Brown)

The Adrienne Arsht Center began its Black culture celebration, “The Juneteenth Juke Joint,” in 2022. Now it seems that the celebration of Black culture, music, and food in the American South has gained annual status.

The event is part of The Heritage Project, a program created by the Arsht Center with a commitment to promote social equality and amplify Black voices, according to Zaylin Yates from the Heritage Project Committee.

This year’s event starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14.

For generations, Juneteenth has been celebrated as the country’s “second Independence Day.” It commemorates the end of slavery when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to free enslaved people.

Guests enjoy the 2022 Juneteenth Juke Joint, the first edition. The event at the Ziff Opera House returns this year. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Brown)

Also known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, or Black Independence Day, Juneteenth, a combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” has been celebrated since as a day of gathering, cookouts, music, and pride in Black freedom. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that recognized June 19 as a federal holiday.

Juke Joints, explains Yates, were backwoods, roadside establishments run and patronized by Black Americans in the years after slavery ended. They were primarily found in the South and were safe spaces for Black people to gather and find solace while drinking and listening to music of Black artists and finding joy among each other while escaping the outside world.

The Arsht Center’s “Juneteenth Juke Joint” was created a year after Juneteenth was recognized as a National Holiday.

The dance party kicks off with a mix of pan-African beats by DJ Shacia Päyne Marley (Photo courtesy of artist management)

“Although Juneteenth stems from a negative part of history, we choose to celebrate Black joy and freedom, which is something that everyone in Miami can enjoy,” says Yates, who adds that last year’s event sold out in only a few weeks.

The event, meant for those 18 years and older, features a mix of pan-African vibes with smooth jazz from DJ Shacia Päyne Marley, granddaughter of Bob and Rita Marley, and renowned saxophonist, producer, and composer Melton Mustafa Jr.

“I think these types of events either celebrate, teach, or evoke a conversation, which is why paying homage to history is always important,” says Yates.

Mustafa Jr. is returning for the second edition of Juneteenth Juke Joint at the Arsht.

Saxophonist, producer and composer Melton Mustafa Jr., aka, Mustafa on Sax, performs once again at this year’s ‘Juneteenth Juke Joint.” (Photo courtesy of artist management)

The son of international jazz trumpeter, Melton Mustafa Sr., Mustafa Jr. views Juneteenth as a day of celebration, reflection, and obligation to honor those who came before him. He goes on to say that music and the arts as a whole are a way to spark dialogue and bridge gaps between different cultures.

The saxophonist says his performance will feature a celebration of Black American Music, taking the audience through several genres of music such as gospel, blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, pop, funk and hip hop.

“Music has always been a part of every important Black movement. It is a way to showcase importance and our creativity. My hope is to continue to create music that fuels today’s movements. To have it serve as a reminder of the stock that we come from,” he says.

WHAT: Juneteenth Juke Joint

WHERE: Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

WHEN: 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 14. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with a curated happy hour menu featuring soul food-inspired bites and alcoholic drinks for those 21 and over.

COST:  $35, general admission; soul food-inspired platters range from $12-$18 a plate; beverages from $12-24.

INFORMATION:  305-949-6722 or is a nonprofit source of dance, visual arts, music, and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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