Overture to Overtown: Miami’s historical jazz and blues scene (includes video story)

Overtown was once the core of the Miami jazz and blues scene, but the “Harlem of the South” is now just a memory for those who got to experience it.

The “Overture to Overtown” festival has been hosted annually by the Betsy hotel for the last nine years. It aims to protect and share the heritage of Overtown through carefully curated performances and presentations.

Carole Anne Taylor, festival curator and performer, said it all started when artists and other black personalities that were performing on the beach had to go Overtown as a result of segregation laws. She describes Overtown as a “culture hub for Black people.”

Because of COVID-19, the festival transitioned to virtual this year. It was hosted throughout September on Zoom in four sessions discussing the past, present and future of Overtown. South Florida Access reporter Paola Marcano-Bolívar interviewed performers and curators of the festival to learn more about it and their process transitioning into virtual. One of the performers, Argentinian singer Roxana Amed, said the time in quarantine has allowed the audience to take the time to really listen and develop their awareness.

Overtown has far more history than many know. Don’t miss the chance to learn more about it. Recordings of the event are available on the Betsy Hotel’s Youtube channel.

Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Monica is working on her broadcast journalism bachelor's degree. She loves to write and is passionate about sports, the art of interviewing and strives to become an on-air sports talent. She produces digital content and is a social media manager.

From Caracas, Venezuela Paola Marcano Bolívar is pursuing her degree in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications at FIU. She hopes to work for the entertainment and music industry, sharing impactful stories through different mediums. She loves to be creative, sing, dance and do graphic design.

Brea Jones, rising FIU senior, has experience writing, videography/photography, interviewing, using Adobe Software and currently works as  Promotion and Recruitment Director for FIU Student Media. She has worked with several publications and published over 30 articles; to see her profile click https://breajones5.wixsite.com/journalismportfolio.

Cristina Feliciano is a broadcast media major at Florida International University. She is passionate about delivering the news and creating professional digital media content. She is experienced in field reporting on camera and editing news packages, but also loves to write.