Jazz in the Gardens’ Sunday line up heaped praise on Miami for being an incubator for creative talent. Before performing his eponymous “Black America Again,” Chicago rapper Common saluted the Miami team behind the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight.”
“You gotta give it up to the creators that come out of the 305,” the 45-year-old rapper said. “It just goes to show that given the opportunity there’s no telling what you can create. They want to tell stories of us out there wilin’, but we want to tell another story about Black America.”
Now in its 12th year, the festival organizers also made certain to celebrate “Moonlight’s” upset win by giving the keys to the City of Miami Gardens to the young stars of the film, Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner, the Norland Middle Schoolers who played Chiron and Kevin. Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III presented them and their acting teacher Tanisha Cidel, with the honors. “These are the type of educators we need to invest in. These are the type of talents we need to invest in,” declared Mayor Gilbert. Also highlighted for achievement during the festival: the football team from Miami Carol City Senior High School. The Chiefs won the Class 6A State Championship back in December and came to the stage to be applauded by Mayor Gilbert and host Ricky Smiley.
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The young stars of “Moonlight,” Jaden Piner, left, and Alex Hibbert, talk to reporters after receiving the key to the City of Miami Gardens.
Along with the celebration of local talent, audiences enjoyed an evening of music from Smokie Norful, Esperanza Spalding, The Roots, Andra Day, Common and LL Cool J.
“We’re going to dig into the crates!,” cried LL Cool J, jumping off his set with “Mama Said Knock You Out” and a bass-heavy “Jack the Ripper” that made eardrums tickle.
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The rapper also presented Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Miami Gardens teen who was shot and killed five years ago. She took the stage to talk about her book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.”