“A Class Act”-Mayor Shirley Gibson on Jazz in The Gardens
By, Celli Arenas
The balmy spring air wafting the scent of soul food delights like: cracked conch, barbecued ribs, and garlic crabs, tickled my nose as I grooved to great music and shopped in the vendors square during The Jazz in The Gardens Music Festival. The enchanting city of Miami Gardens, Florida hosted the event on March 17-18, 2012. I had the good fortune to attend the 7th Annual “Lucky Seven” Jazz in The Gardens Music Festival, at Sun Life Stadium. For two days I enjoyed the beautiful music, sunny days, and breezy nights. While I snapped photos and received great samples from numerous sponsors, I also enjoyed some awesome entertainment from the hottest acts in Jazz and R&B music. During my stroll through the Gardens, guess who I found sampling handcrafted paper flowers, to accessorize a flowing floral colored ensemble? It was none other than one of the major contributors of this greatly anticipated event, Mayor Shirley Gibson. I got an opportunity to join her while surveying the wares made available during the festival. With the sounds Kevin Eubanks in the background, we talked. “I love what the event has done to attract interest, vendors, guests, to Miami Gardens,” explains Mayor Gibson as she reflects on the success of the yearly event. She explains how much the event has grown in its seven years of existence, and how the event attracts international attention, “ I appreciate how the city responds and turns out for this event. Just yesterday I spoke with a patron visiting from the Bahamas, who met with family here from England, so that they all could enjoy this experience together. The event is really a class act”, says Mayor Shirley Gibson with pride.
Mayor Shirley Gibson is the First Mayor of the City of Miami Gardens, which is the third largest city in Miami-Dade County, Florida. She is currently the only African-American female to hold office as Mayor in Miami-Dade County. Miami Gardens was founded due to the efforts of Shirley Gibson, who has, “a vision of political self-determination and civic empowerment for her community”. Mayor Gibson successfully led a dedicated group of her neighbors in creating the largest predominately African-American municipality in the state of Florida. Her efforts, along with many others, helped to provide a venue for what is quickly becoming one of the most highly anticipated musical festivals in the US and international markets.
After our conversation Mayor Gibson joined event host, MC Lyte, on stage to raise money for Cancer research, reminded patrons to continue to support the fair city of Miami Gardens, and encouraged us to return next year. She can bet on that! “Lucky Seven” was sweet, but I’m sure “Eight” will be great!