“The Ladies in The Gardens”

“The Ladies in The Gardens”- Female Vocalists Dominate JIG
By, Celli Arenas

Photo by, Sugar Sugar

First she blankets us with her rich, operatic, soprano; then, she digs down deep and goes in to a sexy, voluptuous, alto to serve us some “Crown Royal on Ice”. Jill Scott, along with Ledisi, Mary J. Blige, and the incomparable Patti Labelle were some of the internationally renowned mega-stars who graced the stage at Jazz In The Gardens, held March 17th and 18th, 2012 in the historic Miami Gardens, Florida. Additionally, this year, world-famous female emcee, MC Lyte served as host of the star-studded event.

Photo by, Anita Hope Darbonne

When I took a stroll through the crowd on Sunday, I asked patrons how they felt this year’s “Lucky 7″ line up compared to previous years. “This year is awesome, I loved Jill Scott, she was definitely my favorite”, says one concert attendee. “This year the ladies are definitely representing,” says Ken. Concertgoers were wowed at Ledisi’s vocal range and rocking looks. “I have seen Ledisi a couple of times in concert,” says Jerold. “She has a unique sound and she definitely delivers,” he says. “I must admit, she is also sexy as hell,” he gushes. Males and females alike, all agree that the ladies rolled the dice and came up as big winners in the “Lucky 7” concert weekend.

Photo by, Sugar Sugar

I asked some of the more mature concertgoers about how they liked this year’s line up. “Well, I came for the first time because of Patti Labelle,” says Mary, a 65-year-old retired educator, “She is always a pleasure to see”. “I liked Kevin Eubanks and Kenny G, but I swear, that Patti gets better with age. Now, she is the show stopper,” says ‘50-something’- year-old bus driver, Ron. The lady, Ms. Patti-Patti, represents timeless, classic, vocal perfection; and, she loves to share the stage with today’s hit makers, too. Now that is star power.

Photo by, Anita Hope Darbonne

Last, but not least, I must pay homage to my fave female of the bunch, MJB. I wanted to get a one-on-one with her, partially because I wanted to tell her that I have been a devoted fan since, “What’s the 411?” but, I also wanted to discuss her new projects, specifically the biopic on the life of Nina Simone. No luck for me! That’s fine. I still sang and danced with her as if it were my own private show. A friend sent me a text during her set, wondering where I was in the crowd. I had to let him know that I was having a MJB holy ghost and would check in later. Mary never disappoints as far as I am concerned.

Photo by, Anita Hope Darbonne

Guys don’t fret or feel left out. The male acts were awesome too. Big shout out to Kem, Kenny G, Kevin Eubanks, Ramsey Lewis, and the unstoppable Doug E Fresh; but, this year fellas, the women stole the show. See ya in the Gardens, next year!



Photos by, Celli Arenas

“A Class Act”-Mayor Shirley Gibson on Jazz in The Gardens

“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!