Crowds gathered March 18 at the North Beach Bandshell for the first Youth Music Festival to watch Miami Beach children performing live, many for the very first time.
“How often do we have a chance to honor children when it comes to concerts and musical performances,” said Miami Beach resident Sammy Gonzalez. “It’s one thing to when children see adults performing but when they see others their same age doing it, they feel inspired to pick up an instrument.”
Gonzalez is instructor of three bands that made it to the festival’s lineup, to win a chance to perform as opening act for the band Locos por Juana.
An open call for young Miami Beach musicians went out in December. Nineteen bands auditioned and nine youth performers were selected.
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“In the video submission you can only see so much talent. I was blown away by how these kids were able to hold down a 20-minute performance in such a big stage,” said Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman, who worked for months to organize the event.
For Aleman and the city, it is important to create an environment where the children weren’t competing but rather celebrating music and to supporting one-another, she said.
The only other performances some of the children had prior, was at “bar mitzvahs and family gatherings,” according to Aleman.
“The kids had so much fun even after they performed,” Gonzalez said. “It was so nice to see that their hard pays off.”
About 500 music fans attended. There was food trucks, a full bar for drinks that were sold inside the bandshell.
There was a $5 suggestion donation at the door. All collected proceeds went to the youth music programs at the city of Miami Beach, Miami Beach High Rock ensemble, Nautilus Middle School’s Jazz ensemble and Young Musicians Unite, a nonprofit that provides free music education to underrepresented kids in Wynwood and Overtown.
Next year organizers are planning on adding live solo acoustic acts that can perform in smaller stages set up throughout the bandshell and along Ocean Terrace, which they plan on closing off from traffic from 73rd to 75th street.
“We want to give every child that works hard the opportunity to shine their talent in the community,” Aleman said.