The ninth installment of South Florida’s uber jazz festival dubbed “Jazz in the Gardens 9” gets on the way from March 15-16, 2014, on the grounds of the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. In case, you have been hiding under a rock for the last eight years, Jazz in the Gardens (“JITG9”) was created by the former City of Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson. Over the past eight years, JITG has been held as a two-day festival, but this year, the organizers added the first annual opening night party featuring the 80s Dazz Band with the SOS Band, to be held at Calder Casino & Race Course on March 14. This musical extravaganza has grown to become highly regarded in comparison to its counterparts around the country, and is definitely a “must-see and must go” for music lovers both nationally and internationally, attracting some 63,000 fans in 2013. The JITG stage has been graced by some of the music world’s biggest icons from across the globe. With artists such as Jonathan Butler, Angelique Kidjo, KEM, O’Jays, Isley Brothers, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Common, Erykah Badu, Nancy Wilson, Kenny G, Stanley Clarke and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly (Clarke and Maze are both returning this year), so one could definitely say music fans were have been treated to a musical feast for the past eight years. JITG9’s lineup of musical acts will satisfy the young at heart and the seasoned fan, who enjoys a little Soul, Hip Hop, R&B Classics and would even get down with some Adult Contemporary flavor. The opening night party will reintroduced fans to the 80s hot shot bands, from Cleveland, Ohio’s Dazz Band (Let It Whip) to Atlanta’s very own SOS Band (Take Your Time – Do It Right), it should be a show with each band parading their hits, as both bands have had their fair share. Saturday’s lineup will showcase the stylings of jazz man himself Boney James, R&B crooners Mint Condition, Trey Songz and Jamie Foxx and R&B goddess Kelly Rowland. When Rachelle Ferrell, Stanley Clarke, Anthony Hamilton and LL COOL J hit the stage on Sunday, all of the fans on the grounds of the Sun Life Stadium will be blown away by the musical diversity. But with all the saxophone, bass guitars and showmanship, closing out Sunday night will be the incomparable, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, who is also returning to JITG9 and whose existence and track record needs no further introduction. With such hits as “Happy Feelings,” “Workin Together,” and “Lady of Magic,” this group who arrived on the scene in 1977 ha snot missed a beat since. For the true JITG fan, the festival is not only about the music and the artists performing, JITG is about bringing cultures together, it is about the foods, the friendships and the vibes. JITG9 will bring together vendors and their culinary creations from vegetarian to BBQ, so bring your healthy appetite. Every good music festival surely needs a great host, so for JITG9 comedian/actor D.L. Hughley signed on to be the Emcee. Hughley will have some big shoes to fill as “Fly Jock” Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden brought their A game to JITG previously. However, Hughley is no slouch, he is one of the four Original Kings of Comedy and has launched his own daily radio show – “The D.L. Hughley Show, which airs on Reach Media Network and done his own HBO special. Bring on the fun stuff – I know you will DL.
After a nail-biting finis to the 2009 SuperBowl. There are a few conversations that are being carried out at office water coolers. Henceforth my quick post on what people are saying.
People are talking about …
1. The prolific catch made by Pittsburgh Steeler Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes to seal the fate of the Steelers as SuperBowl Champs.
2. The Bruce Springsteen Half Time Show
3. The Larry Fitzgerald interview where he revealed his estranged relationship with his mother who now deceased. Fitzgerald reveal how a feud between him and his mother ended, but he never got the chance to say goodbye to her before he death. Mrs. Fitzgerald died as a result of her battle with breat cancer. Fitzgerald’s dad was brought to tears during the interview.
4. The Roger Federer meltdown during the fifth set of Australian Open and how Rafael Nadal dominated. Much will be discussed about the impact Nadal has made on Tennis and how Roger does not seem to have an answer for him.
5. Serena Williams’ win to clinch another Aussie Open Title.
6. Phil Mickelson missing the cut FBR Open, he shot a round of 73 to finish seven over in Arizona.
7. Jennifer Hudson rendition of the National Anthem At The SuperBowl – one way “Spectacular”.
8. The big win for Pittsburgh Steelers sophmore head coach Mike Tomlin.
The City of Miami Gardens has just released their mega star-studded lineup for the 2009 installment of Miami Gardens’ own music fest billed as “Jazz In The Gardens”. The fourth edition of this now popular music fete is set for March 28 and 29th on the grounds of the Dolphin stadium. The two-day festival will be a one stop shop for music fans of all ages, as there will be something for everyone to enjoy. The March 28th lineup includes: Anthony Hamilton, Common, Erykah Badu, Will Downing, Roy Ayers. The final day of the festival will see artists such as Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Kenny G, Jonathan Butler, Angelique Kidjo, and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. These artists are no stranger to the South Florida area and music fans from all walks of life who will travel to this two-day festival no doubt have there favorites.
Kenneth Gorelick’ known only as Kenny G to his million of fans worldwide started with a job as saxophone soloist for Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra in 1973 at the age of 17, when White was impressed by his mastery of the blues scale. Kenny was also studying for a major in accounting at the same time. After being rejected as a music major from Central Washington University, he went on to get a degree from University of Washington and played with the funk band Cold, Bold & Together before becoming a credited member of The Jeff Lorber Fusion. He began his solo career after his period with Lorber. In 1982, Kenny G signed with Arista Records as a solo artist, after label president Clive Davis heard his rendition of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. He has released many solo albums and collaborated with various artists including Andrea Bocelli, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Natalie Cole, Steve Miller (which marked the only time he appeared on a rock and roll album), Dudley Moore, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin. Influenced by the likes of saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and the lyricism of Barry Manilow, his own albums are usually classified as smooth jazz. He received success quite early on, with both G Force and Gravity, his second and third studio albums respectively, achieving platinum status in the United States.
Will Downing is an American singer-songwriter and producer. Downing’s recording career has won a loyal audience of contemporary jazz and R&B fans with albums and concerts that have showcased his rich baritone vocals and unique interpretations of R&B and pop classics that stretches back to the early 1980s. After about two decades of making approximately sixteen solo albums, this crooner showed extreme courage, even though Will was sidelined with the devastating auto-immune disease known as Polymyositis, he managed to release his lastest album entitled After Tonight. South Florida music fans will embrace him with open arms as their musical ear will be in for a treat.
Erica Abi Wright born February 26, 1971 better known by her stage name Erykah Badu, is a multiple Grammy-winner American soul singer and songwriter, whose work encompasses elements of R&B, hip hop and jazz. She is best known for her role in the rise of the neo soul sub-genre, and for her eccentric, musical stylings and sense of fashion. Erykah also known as the “First Lady of Neo-Soul”. Early in her career, Badu was recognizable for wearing very large and colorful headwraps. For her musical sensibilities, she has often been compared to jazz great Billie Holiday. Her musical success stems over the following albums Baduizm (1997), Live (1997), Mama’s Gun (2000), Worldwide Underground (2003), New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (2008), New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) (2009)
Anthony Hamilton was born January 28, 1971 in Charlotte, North Carolina is an American R&B, soul, and neo soul singer, songwriter, and record producer who rose to fame with his platinum-selling second studio album Comin’ from Where I’m From (2003), which featured the singles “Comin’ from Where I’m From” and “Charlene”. Hamilton first discovered his talent while singing in his church’s choir at age ten. In 1993, he left Charlotte and headed to New York City, where he signed with Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records. He was first introduced to mainstream audiences with his singing of the chorus on Nappy Roots’ 2002 “Po’ Folks”, which earned a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” in 2003. He is also featured on Jadakiss’ 2004 hit “Why” (which was also nominated for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration”, in 2005) and two of 2Pac’s remixed songs, 2002’s “Thugz Mansion” (7 Remix) and 2006’s “Dear Mama” (Frank Nitty Remix). Hamilton’s first compilation album, Soulife, is composed of songs recorded during the early part of Hamilton’s career and was released in June 2005. Ain’t Nobody Worryin’, his gold-selling third studio album, was released on December 13, 2005.
Ayers grew up in a musical family. At the age of five, Lionel Hampton gave him his first pair of mallets, which led to the vibraphone being his trademark sound for decades. The area of Los Angeles that Ayers grew up in, now known as “South Central”, but then known as “South Park”, was the epicenter of the Southern California Black Music Scene. On any given day, Roy would have been likely to be exposed to music as it not only emanated from the many nightclubs and bars in the area, but also poured out of many of the homes where the musicians who kept the scene alive lived in and around Central. Thomas Jefferson High School, from which Ayers graduated, gave to the music and jazz worlds some of its brightest stars, such as Dexter Gordon. Ayers was responsible for the highly regarded soundtrack to Jack Hill’s 1973 blaxploitation film Coffy, which starred Pam Grier. He later moved from a jazz-funk sound to R&B, as seen on Mystic Voyage and especially the title track from his 1976 album Everybody Loves the Sunshine.
The Concert will see other greats as South African Singer/Songwriter Jonathan Butler, Common, Maze featuring Franky Beverly and Angelique Kidjo.
Jazz in the Gardens, in just three years, has become one of the premiere jazz festivals in South Florida; raising the bar each year with its star studded line up. The jazz festival, with attendance levels expected at 20,000 this year, delivers a diverse mix of music genres that range from Jazz, R&B and Caribbean sounds.
Circle One Marketing and Concertz Event Management, Inc., fresh off the heels of their success with last year’s festival is once again at the helm with this year’s installment. The strong leadership of Mayor Shirley Gibson has taken The City of Miami Gardens in just three years, taken Jazz in the Gardens to unprecedented levels of notoriety and reputation. Last year’s phenomenal success included growing the attendance by 350% over the first year. With the tremendous line-up of artists, on-site attractions, tight event management and massive local, regional and national promotional efforts, this year’s attendance is expected to top 20,000, up more than 200% over 2007.
Jazz in the Gardens is presented by The City of Miami Gardens and Dolphin Stadium and sponsored by The Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, Shula’s Hotel & Golf Club, Macy’s, Southern Wines & Spirits, HOT 105 and Tootsies Caberet.
Resilient is one word you could use to describe jazz vocalist Will Downing who has been putting up a courageous fight against the disease polymyositis. Will was determined not to let the disease delay the work on the his current album After Tonight. He completed After Tonight, recording at times from a hospital bed or a wheelchair. Thanks to hard work, faith and family, Downing is now able to get up and walk on his own with the aid of a walker. With the success of his latest album it was definitely worth the trouble. Downing will be appearing at a series of speaking engagements and listening parties in various cities to further promote his new album. He will also discuss his career as well as his health challenges. These events will mark his first public appearances since being diagnosed with polymyositis at the end of 2006.
Downing will make stops in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Atlanta. The venues for each event will be carefully selected, and the organizers promises that it will be upscale and intimate. Prominent local media personality will host each event and will engage the veteran singer in a one-on-one interview before an audience.
Downing who still suffering from the effects of the crippling muscle condition, will not perform. Instead, this resilient artist dubbed “king of sensuality” will field questions directly from fans, sign autographs, and pose for photos.
Over the recent months Downing’s fans have been eagerly awaiting his come-back, as it has been well publicized that he has made great strides in his battle with polymyositis.
Upcoming dates for An Evening With Will Downing are as follows:
April 22 – Chicago, IL — DuSable Museum
April 24 — Detroit, MI – Sweet Georgia Browns
April 29 – Washington, DC — Station 9
May 1 — Baltimore, MD – Reginald Lewis African American Museum
May 7 — Atlanta, GA — (location — tba)
Adekemi Owens known professionally and affectionately to music fans as KEM has come a long way from Nashville, Tennessee to his current hometown of Detroit, Michigan. So one figures that is why this musical genius has written and performed songs that could be considered as Jazz, R&B, Soul or Adult Contemporary. This Detroit native with Nigerian roots has overcome some hurdles in his life, but is living the true American dream of success through perseverance.
Kem who wrote, produced and financed his self-released debut album, Kemistry was later signed by Motown Records in November of 2001. He released his sophomore project Kem II which sold over 500,000 copies nationwide. “Love Calls” the single from his debut album became a hit on the urban adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio, and USA Today tagged him as a “Motown Classic”. “I Cant Stop Loving You” from his second album went to No. 1 on Adult Contemporary Radio for several weeks. Kem enjoyed success to with another single “You Might Win”, which featured Steve Wonder on Harmonica.
Kem has been touring to promote his albums for the last three years. I caught up with him after his red hot performance at the City of Miami Gardens 3rd Annual Jazz In The Garden, which was held March 15-16,2008. Here is how we “chopped it up”:
AM: I hear that you are in the studio now recording tracks for the new album, how is that going?
KEM: I am currently working on my third album entitled KEM III – Intimacy. We are working on bits and pieces of the, three or four songs at a time, and at this stage would say its working in progress.
AM: Let’s talk a little about your performance at Jazz In The Garden. In my opinion, that performance will be on my mind for a long tine. The crowd loved you, how did you feel being on stage delivering such great music?
KEM: First of all it was a relief to come to South Florida during this time of year, because of the weather back in Detroit. I was exciting to be a part of Jazz In The Garden due to the fact that it would be our first real performance in Miami. We have performed as part of the Tom Joyner Morning Show – Sky Show, but doing the Jazz In the Garden gave us the opportunity to reach out even more to old fans and new. It certainly felt good to be on stage, using my god given talent to entertain the people.
AM: How do you get mentally prepared for a performance?
KEM: I normally get together with my band to rehearse, figure things out with my production team, eat well and rest. The day of the performance we do our sound check, we pray prior to the show, asking for guidance through the set. Since every audience is different and the cities are not the same, I am always adapting to my environment. You have to be mentally prepared to be able to communicate with the audience and to deal with any unforeseen events during the performance.
AM: Do you feel that as a performer, you need to practice more or prepare more mentally?
KEM: Practice is good and it makes for a smooth performance, but the mental preparation is important if you want to deliver a great show over and over again.
AM: So tell me about your journey from your birthplace in Nashville to where you currently reside in Detroit?
KEM: I was born in Nashville, and moved to Detroit, where I started Pre-K. I still have a large amount of my family members in Nashville. Even though I was raised in Detroit, I was still influenced by the music that my family grew up on. I grew listening to Steely Dan, Grover Washington, Hiroshima, Steve Wonder, Fleetwood Mac. Living in Detroit, it was divine landing in the low town music era
AM: Exactly how would you describe your genre of music?
KEM: My music certainly has some jazz overtones, but its also R&B. So I would say that its R&B/Jazz/Adult Contemporary. However, my new material will be a little different.
AM: Tell me about what motivates you?
KEM: Being spiritual is very important to me and its definite at the forefront of my life. At the end of the day your value system and your spirituality is all you have. Life is about find that spiritual solution
AM: Has anyone ever told you that you sound like Al Jarreau, if so, how do you feel about that?
KEM: Yes, I have been compared to Al Jarreau which I thing is the highest honor anyone could obtain. I have met Al personally, and we have shared the stage performing together. We have also talked about doing something together and I admire his work and consider him a friend.
AM: Who has been your musical influence over the years?
KEM: I am definitely inspired by the work of Michael Jackson and Prince. Although we have totally different styles, I admire them because they make you feel good. You definitely feel something from listening to them or seeing them perform. Prince had great musicianship and is so prolific in composing songs and producing them. I admire him especially because he has the atomy on his projects and that’s what I would like to continue to do.
AM: Some of love songs are said to be about your spirituality and not necessarily about boy meets girl. Was that your intent when you wrote the song “Each Other”?
KEM: When I write my songs, although they might means something special to me, I want my listeners and fans to take the lyrics for what it means to them, whether it love or spirituality. I leave it up to them.
AM: So I hear that you are a self-taught musician, what instrument do you play?
KEM: Yes that is true, I play the keyboards and is planning to learn to play the guitar.
AM: Having produced both of your albums, have you produced for anyone else?
KEM: We are getting request to produce other artists and have recently produced a song on the Madea’s Family Reunion soundtrack, which is entitled “Tonight”. I have also produced the track called Fascination for the soundtrack to the movie Take The Lead. But I want to continue to pursue my career by build on what I have now.
AM: Tell me about your days as a wedding singer, shared some of your stories?
KEM: I was introduced by the leader of the wedding band by a friend of mine. Being a wedding singer has given me some of greatest experience as a singer. I did a bunch of cover tunes and got chance to hone my craft. It taught me to interact with the audience and develop my stage presence. I did it for four years and did regret a moment.
AM: Since your first album, who are some of the artists that you have toured with?
KEM: I have been going non-stop for the last three years and have with some great artists, people like OJays, Nancy Wilson, Will Downing, Reuben Stoddard, Fantasia, Kindred & Family, Boney James, Michael McDonald, Ashford & Simpson, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, among others.
AM: Have you toured abroad?
KEM: Yes. I have gone to several European Countries and to South Africa.
AM: Was it difficult to finance you first album? What were the pitfalls, if any?
KEM: I financed my first album on my credit card. I did whatever work I could on the album and hired musicians to do what I could not. It was a learning experience for me.
AM: What experience did you take to the making of your second album?
KEM: I have gained a wealth of knowledge from the first album, like learning to budget my money and my time. I have definitely learned what not to do. I would recommend this hands-on approach to young artists who are stating out.
AM: Well good luck on the new project.
KEM: Thanks. I will get into your hands as soon as it’s ready.