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Local artists shine at Jazz in the Gardens

Local artist April Raquel and the Koture Funk perform at the11th annual Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival in Miami Gardens on Saturday, March 19, 2016.
Local artist April Raquel and the Koture Funk perform at the11th annual Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival in Miami Gardens on Saturday, March 19, 2016. mocner@miamiherald.com

Big names like Usher, Janelle Monae and Babyface are expected to perform at the 11th annual Jazz in the Gardens, but two lucky South Florida singers — LaVie and April RaQuel — were chosen to perform on the same stage as the stars.

Charline Murphy, also known as LaVie, which means “the life” in French, says her music encompasses all of life. She was expected to perform Sunday.

LaVie has been singing for 15 years and hasn’t slowed down since. Inspired by the likes of Jill Scott and PJ Morton, her sound is influenced by R&B, pop and jazz.

After applying four times, she was finally accepted into the festival on her fifth try. She credits God’s divine timing for her luck, and she is scheduled to perform Sunday.

“A lot of times we think we’re ready for something, and there’s still some more groundwork, some more growing, and some more learning to do,” LaVie said. “The fact that now I get the opportunity means now is the time — and it’s a perfect time.”

Born and raised in North Miami to Haitian parents, LaVie says her family is her foundation. Her husband, Stephane Murphy — who is also her producer and musical director — was ecstatic to hear the news of her acceptance because he is her biggest supporter, she said. Together they write her music, and they recently released her latest single, Alive. Its message: to stay grounded in the love of God and to have faith that everything will fall into place, no matter what tribulations life may throw.

“I know that I’m not here by myself,” LaVie said, adding that “everything around me was falling apart, and I still kept going.”

“I know what that is, and it’s God,” she said. “But let’s not dwell in the negative. Let’s dwell in what’s positive in our lives — as long as you encounter LaVie you’re going to encounter love. Let’s just enjoy life.”

RaQuel also knows about the power of timing.

In 2006, RaQuel decided to return to Florida from Los Angeles, where she had worked in television, and she found her niche in urban, rock, soul and funk music.

Blending all of those genres, she brings a unique element and sass to the stage, including instruments like bass, drums, keys, guitar and occasional horns.

On Saturday, she played with her band Kouture Funk and performed her original single Nobody Does It Better.

“The biggest validation is being on the stage today at Jazz in the Gardens. This will be the first time I will have this level of production and to present my original music as the artist that I am. This is the biggest deal so far of my life,” RaQuel said. “It raises the bar in every way, for me to take every detail as serious as possible. It’s a great opportunity to set at a higher level my performance.”

Larry Bradshaw, who has been coming to the concert series for the past 10 years, said he’s excited to see these local artists perform this weekend.

“It’s good for their exposure. The little dogs need to hang out with the big dogs. You don’t always want big-time people here,” Bradshaw said. “Let the little people come up, too. That’s how the whole world should be.”

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Click here for more of LaVie and April RaQuel

If you go:

Don’t forget the sunscreen. Also, organizers suggest you budget extra time for parking because portions of the parking lots are off limits due to construction of a roof at Sun Life Stadium. While tickets are available on site, organizers advise you can also purchase them in advance online at JazzintheGardens.com or through Ticketmaster. Remember to print them out.

The doors open at 3 p.m. Sunday.

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