The 2023 Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival takes place from April 1-30, 2023.

By: Mar. 18, 2023

THE BETSY'S 11TH ANNUAL OVERTURE TO OVERTOWN JAZZ FESTIVAL to Run Through the Month of April The Betsy's 11th Annual Overture to Overtown (OTO) Jazz Festival will run for the entire month of April 2023 to coincide with Jazz Appreciation Month in the USA. Community programming is a key element in honoring the legacy of Overtown as Miami's historic jazz mecca. With that in mind, the Betsy's robust lineup featuring world-known jazz musicians inside the Hotel will be augmented by curating and co-presenting events in the Miami Dade County Public Schools, at area colleges, with the Ocean Drive Association in Lummus Park and in the heart of historic Overtown.

The festival culminates on April 30th with jazz from 11 AM to 11 PM in commemoration of International Jazz Day which is also closing day for National Jazz Appreciation Month in the USA. Jazz Appreciation Month was created by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz, which also includes a special celebration of UNESCO's International Jazz Day on April 30th.

The Betsy's International Jazz Day programs on April 30, 2023 include: Overtown-born spoken word artist Rebecca Butterfly Vaughns opens a program for the Melton Mustafa, Jr. Quartet presented in partnership with the City of Miami Beach and Ocean Drive Association on the Ocean Drive Promenade directly in front of The Betsy Hotel at 7 PM. Inside The Betsy, Australian/Israeli pianist Tal Cohen performs at 11 AM and the Edgar Pantoja Latin Jazz Trio plays until 11 PM.

The Betsy's Annual Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival (OTO) celebrates the historic connections between South Florida jazz and the National historic jazz circuit which brought musicians who played in NYC's Harlem to The Harlem of the South (AKA Overtown) as they made their way from club to club - across the USA. In historic Overtown, stars like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, and Josephine Baker spent the night after performances on the beach due to segregation laws. Unable to stay the night after a gig, they went "over town", stayed in hotels that were owned and operated by Black proprietors, and played gigs into the morning hours for integrated audiences. The talents of so many cultural 'greats' fostered such world-class entertainment venues in Overtown as the Lyric Theater, Knight Beat, and other clubs. Over the years, distinguished African American intellectuals also stayed there, including W.E.B. Dubois, author Zora Neale Hurston, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X frequented the area and so did Muhammed Ali, as did so many other great African American voices.

Participating musicians and poets include: Musicians: Jim Gasior (piano), LeNard Rutledge (vocals), Edgar Pantoja (piano), Nicole Yarling (violin), Tal Cohen (piano), Melton Mustafa Jr. (saxophone), Markus Gottschlich (piano), Leonard Reina (piano), David Attelan (piano), Olegario Diaz (piano), Charu Suri (piano), Cindy Ellis (Vocals), Wendy Pedersen (Vocals), Brian Murphy (piano), Ryan Ellis (piano), Nanami (vocals), Nikki Kidd (vocals), Roxana Amed (vocals), Carole Ann Taylor (vocals), Kayla Nicole (vocals), LaVie (vocals), Arline Alvares (vocals), Anuila Mora (piano), Allen Paul (piano), David Attelan (piano), Allen Paul (piano), and Harvel Nakundi (drums).

Poets: Butterfly Vaughns (poet), James Cagney (poet), and Geoffrey Philp (poet).
Participating venues: The Betsy Hotel (primary presentation venue), Lummus Park in Miami Beach, Hampton Art Lovers' Ward Rooming House' in Overtown, Barry University in Miami Shores, New World School for the Arts in Miami.

Sponsoring partners: The Betsy-South Beach, Betsy Community Fund at The Miami Foundation, Plutzik Goldwasser Family Foundation, Ocean Drive Association, City of Miami Beach, Greater Miami and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau, Miami to Go, Hampton Art Lovers, Barry University, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Academy of American Poets Laughlin Award Program.


Jazz singer Carole Ann Taylor has had a 50 year career in jazz, having sung with all of the greats early in her career and returning to the stage just a few years ago. In 2020, she co-produced a series called Zen and the Art of Overtown with The Betsy that featured jazz performers and thought leaders reflecting on the importance of Overtown in the history of American jazz. This is her third year as co-producer of The Betsy's annual Overture to Overtown Festival. She will perform in both Overtown (April 21) and at The Betsy Hotel (April 1). Carole Ann serves on many civic boards, including the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, WDNA Jazz Radio and Viernes Culturales. She is also founder and owner of Miami To Go.

Deborah Plutzik Briggs (OTO Jazz Festival Founding Director and Co-Producer) Deborah has had a 40 year career in community arts. She holds a doctoral degree in Music and Arts in Education from Columbia University, and an undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music. Deborah is the force behind The Betsy's global emergence as a luxury hotel with expansive programming that explores the links between literature, music, interdisciplinary arts and social justice. To that end, she is the curator of Live Jazz at the Betsy and The Betsy Writers Room (hosting over 1000 visiting artists to date), as well as the hotel's principal community engagement officer. Her family owns and operates The Betsy Hotel.


The Betsy's Jazz program is the longest continually running series of its kind in the region, featuring live performances 9 times a week - from 6 nightly, and from 11 AM on weekends with an intimate jazz performance space situated at a Steinway grand adjacent to LT Steak and Seafood. Featured performers define the diversity jazz broadly, from traditional to fusion to multicultural and experimental - with a special focus on virtuoso jazz piano and an annual festival called Overture to Overtown. The 2023 Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival takes place from April 1-30, 2023.


The Betsy-South Beach (Click Here) is an award winning luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of the Art Deco District on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, that celebrates arts and culture. The Betsy hosts jazz nine+ times weekly and offers programs in visual arts, literature, community arts, and classical music - all presented in the context of a luxurious curated stay, in an unrivaled ambience designed by Carmelina Santoro and Diamante Pedersoli contained in historic buildings designed by the Art Deco's greatest architects: L. Murray Dixon and Henry Hohauser. Owned and operated by the Plutzik Goldwasser Family, all public spaces are filled with works of art by award-winning global artists curated by co-owner Lesley Goldwasser.


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