Music & Nightlife

Overtown Music & Arts Festival 'showcases the progress' of a community

The Overtown Music & Arts Festival, here in 2017, is produced by Michael Gardner in partnership with the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency and Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon.
The Overtown Music & Arts Festival, here in 2017, is produced by Michael Gardner in partnership with the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency and Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Known for throwing some of the best parties in Miami Beach, Michael Gardner has also made a name for himself with the annual Overtown Music & Arts Festival.

“I wanted to kind of expand outside of doing parties,” said Gardner, founder of Headliner Market Group, which produces the long-running "World’s Greatest Party” at LIV nightclub on Sundays at the Fontainebleau Hotel and #StoryThursdays at Story Nightclub in Miami Beach.

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Michael Gardner, founder of Headliner Market Group, and producer of Overtown Music & Arts Festival. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

“I knew that if we had the right support, it would be a great thing to do for the community. And for me, like, I have always wanted to give back because I know the people have been a part of our longevity."

This year's festival, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday in historic Overtown, is produced by Gardner in partnership with the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency and Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon.

"First time-visitors to the festival are guaranteed to experience phenomenal music, delicious food, gracious community members, and a holistic and fun-loving community event that will showcase the progress ... made in the redevelopment area," Hardemon said.

Scheduled to perform on Saturday: Ginuwine, Estelle, Jon B, K. Michelle, Musiq Soulchild, Vivian Green, Michael Sterling, Tito Puente Jr., Felixx, Ayo & Teo and The Tainerz. There will be gospel performers and "rising star" performances. Also, the festival — also sponsored by House of Wings and the Green Family Foundation — will feature an art expo zone, a barbecue cook-off competition and a Teens Exercising Extraordinary Success (T.E.E.S.) youth zone.

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Tito Puente Jr. performs at the 2017 Overtown Music & Arts Festival. He's also scheduled to play at the 2018 festival on Saturday. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Gardner said he began the festival in 2014 because "I wanted to kind of expand outside of doing parties."

“I knew that if we had the right support, it would be a great thing to do for the community," he said. "And for me, like, I have always wanted to give back because I know the people have been a part of our longevity. And, what better way to give back than putting together an event for the community, which is a free event."

The Illinois native originally moved to Miami in 1991 to attend and play basketball for the University of Miami. He finished college elsewhere and returned to Miami to pursue opening a chain of Headliner barbershops with his cousin aimed at South Florida’s black community. That didn't pan out, and in 2001 he launched Headliner Market Group, a marketing and promotions company.

Hardemon said the festival's success is important to the people of Overtown.

"The Historic Overtown community has suffered from years of terrible publicity that has discouraged tourists and residents from experiencing this cultural destination," Hardemon said. "The Overtown Music and Arts Festival provides an opportunity to attracts tens of thousands of people to the redevelopment area and counter the narrative that Overtown is not a safe community that we can all live, work, and play in."

If you go

  • What: The Overtown Music & Arts Festival

  • Where: Historic Overtown, Northwest Second and Third Avenue between Northwest Eighth and 10th streets

  • When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 14

  • More information: Free; www.overtownmusicartsfestival.com

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