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The excitement buzzing around The Miami Gardens 10th Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) music festival and concert series is at an all-time high, an understandably so. Hosted by comedians D.L. Hughley and Rickey Smiley, it’s no secret that the reputation of the annual event comes highly regarded. Just ask the likes of Patti LaBelle, Maze ft. Frankie Beverly and Kem.

The two-day festival from March 21-22, 2015 will feature several local artists, an array of exotic food vendors and the highly anticipated lineup, including performances by Erykah Badu, Sheila E, Maxwell, Run DMC, R. Kelly, Toni Braxton and more!

Kicking off the weekend with a bang is the Women’s Impact Conference and Luncheon on Friday, March 20, at the Miramar Cultural Center, featuring keynote speaker and reality show personality Omarosa Manigault.

The Official Jazz in the Gardens Pre-Party features a comedy show, live entertainment and dancing that same night. And of course the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show crew will be in full effect, serving up the laughs as the evening’s hosts.

We spoke to Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, about his plans for the bringing more arts related events to the city, what to expect and which artists top his wish list.

 How does this year’s festival compare to that of those in the past?

“Without a doubt, this is our most exciting lineup yet. And by the reports on ticket sales, there’s no denying it. There is no sunnier, breezier, or better place to enjoy your favorite exotic food, good friends and amazing live performances than in the Gardens in springtime.”

Any plans to bring other events that mirror JITG to the city of Miami Gardens?

“Yes of course, in the future we’d love to bring more events like this to the city.”

If you had a wish list and could only name two artists to perform at next year’s JITG who would it be?

“Beyonce and Stevie Wonder. Maybe even Jay Z.”

How has the growth of JITG changed over the years?

“I went to the first JITG, and there were maybe 1300 people there, but it didn’t even look like that much. There were lots of empty seats, people moving around … It was nothing like it is today.”

This event brings people from diverse places including Jamaica, the Bahamas and even as far away as Australia. The city is expecting to break last year’s record of 68,000 tickets sold and has tracked a 15% increase in ticket sales, anticipating about 71,000 people.

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(Photos: Courtesy)