The Betsy’s 11th Annual Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival Celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) April 1- April 30, 2023


The Betsy’s 11th Annual Overture to Overtown (OTO) Jazz Festival will run for the entire month of April 2023 to coincide with Jazz Appreciation Month in the USA. Community programming is a key element in honoring the legacy of Overtown as Miami’s historic jazz mecca.  With that in mind, the Betsy’s robust lineup featuring world-known jazz musicians inside the Hotel will be augmented by curating and co-presenting events in the Miami Dade County Public Schools,  at area colleges,  with the Ocean Drive Association in Lummus Park and in the heart of historic Overtown. 

The festival culminates on April 30th with jazz from 11 AM to 11 PM in commemoration of International Jazz Daywhich is also closing day for National Jazz Appreciation Month in the USA.  Jazz Appreciation Month was created by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz, which also includes a special celebration of UNESCO’s International Jazz Day on April 30th.  

The Betsy’s International Jazz Day programs on April 30, 2023 include:  Overtown-born spoken word artist Rebecca Butterfly Vaughns opens a program for the Melton Mustafa, Jr. Quartet presented in partnership with the City of Miami Beach and Ocean Drive Association on the Ocean Drive Promenade directly in front of The Betsy Hotel at 7 PM.  Inside The Betsy, Australian/Israeli pianist Tal Cohen performs at 11 AM and the Edgar Pantoja Latin Jazz Trio plays until 11 PM.  

The Betsy’s Annual Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival (OTO) celebrates the historic connections between South Florida jazz and the National historic jazz circuit which brought musicians who played in NYC’s Harlem to The Harlem of the South (AKA Overtown) as they made their way from club to club – across the USA.  In historic Overtown, stars like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, and Josephine Baker spent the night after performances on the beach due to segregation laws. Unable to stay the night after a gig, they went “over town”, stayed in hotels that were owned and operated by Black proprietors, and played gigs into the morning hours for integrated audiences.  The talents of so many cultural ‘greats’ fostered such world-class entertainment venues in Overtown as the Lyric Theater, Knight Beat, and other clubs. Over the years, distinguished African American intellectuals also stayed there, including W.E.B. Dubois, author Zora Neale Hurston, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X frequented the area and so did Muhammed Ali, as did so many other great African American voices.

The Betsy’s OTO 2023 LINEUP – as of March 17, 2023

Participating musicians and poets include: Musicians:  Jim Gasior (piano), LeNard Rutledge (vocals), Edgar Pantoja (piano), Nicole Yarling (violin), Tal Cohen (piano), Melton Mustafa Jr. (saxophone), Markus Gottschlich (piano), Leonard Reina (piano), David Attelan (piano), Olegario Diaz (piano), Charu Suri (piano), Cindy Ellis (Vocals), Wendy Pedersen (Vocals), Brian Murphy (piano), Ryan Ellis (piano), Nanami (vocals), Nikki Kidd (vocals), Roxana Amed (vocals), Carole Ann Taylor (vocals), Kayla Nicole (vocals), LaVie (vocals), Arline Alvares (vocals), Anuila Mora (piano), Allen Paul (piano), David Attelan (piano), Allen Paul (piano), and Harvel Nakundi (drums). 

Poets: Butterfly Vaughns (poet),  James Cagney (poet), and Geoffrey Philp (poet). 

Participating venues: The Betsy Hotel (primary presentation venue), Lummus Park in Miami Beach,  Hampton Art Lovers’ Ward Rooming House’  in Overtown, Barry University in Miami Shores, New World School for the Arts in Miami.

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