December 21, 2015

Sister Hazel Is Still Rockin'

There are a few people in South Florida who believe everything and everyone found in the city of Gainesville, Florida are closely related to the University of Florida. Of course, that is far from reality. Gainesville is a thriving community filled with wonderful citizens. Also of interest is the cultural side of life in Gainesville, especially music. That is why I thought it was important, not only for the Gainesville community but also for the entire state of Florida, to feature the music group Sister Hazel. The band has enjoyed a long music career and appears to be positioning for several more years in the entertainment industry. The band continues to actively tour the country, and has just recorded their ninth studio album Lighter In The Dark. The album is scheduled for release February 2016. If you get a chance, you might want to preorder right now. For now, if you do not know anything about Sister Hazel, read this post and learn about one of Florida’s great musical treasures.

Edward Reid

Originating from Gainesville, FL, Sister Hazel is comprised of five gifted, seasoned musicians whose well-spring of natural talent has been called "one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years" by Performing Songwriter Magazine.

In the 20+ years that they have been recording and performing as a band, they have accomplished something that, for most artists, is only a dream: they have built a career with a solid foundation, seemingly impenetrable by the shifting sands of the record industry and the economy. From a musical perspective, the band has always had the same approach to the creative process. The engine that drives them is based on the fundamental principles that attracted the attention of a major label, garnered hit singles on the radio and endeared them to a legion of avid fans: well-crafted, hook-infused songs complimented by solid instrumentation and lush harmony vocals.

For much of the last decade, Sister Hazel has built an empire of 'Hazelnuts' through savvy marketing, hard work, and plain-old, undeniable talent. They also host two annual fan-centered events; their “Hazelnut Hang” in Charleston, SC and The Rockboat, a cruise featuring nonstop opportunities for fan / artist interaction. "The only way we can keep doing what we are doing is by having our fans continue to connect and support us," said Drew Copeland. Commercial pursuit’s aside, at the heart of this band is their desire to do good work. The band itself is named after a now-famous missionary from the Gainesville area who has dedicated her life to making a difference in the lives of her fellow humans. Sister Hazel the band is true to their namesake, having taken on two major charitable projects with Feed The Children and Lyrics For Life. Lyrics For Life is a charity founded by singer Ken Block as a memorial for his younger brother, Jeffrey. It unites musicians and celebrities for concerts and auctions to benefit cancer research and patient-care charities.
With their 9th studio album, Lighter In The Dark, in the works, the band is embracing their roots and their Florida Music influences wholeheartedly. This legacy has always caused the band’s music to defy genre classification and to blur the lines between rock, country, and southern rock. As their first studio album in more than 5 years, the guys are certainly eager to get the new music to their loyal fan base and to work the new music into their high energy live shows as they continue to tour the country in 2016.

The dream for all musicians is to find a way to use their gifts to support themselves and their families at the same time they are enriching the lives of others. For Sister Hazel, it's an honor to be living that dream every day.

November 21, 2015


Leveraging the success of Entangled Publishing’s author-centric business model, CEO and publisher Liz Pelletier has partnered with hit songwriter and producer David Elliott Johnson to form Entangled Music Group and a new musician-centric business model. Entangled Music plans initial focus to be on their first label, Subtext Records, which releases "character inspired" soundtracks based on new and popular books for inclusion with purchase, as well as streaming. Separate tracks will also be available for purchase on all major retailers.

“Music is an amazing medium for storytelling and evoking strong emotions,” says Liz Pelletier, Publisher at Entangled Publishing. “In this digital age, the pairing of music inspired by books creates multimedia novels that can not only enhance the reading experience, but allow the work to become part of our everyday lives and playlists.”

Subtext Records leaps over previous platform hurdles for enhanced e-books via a unique combination of embedded technologies, separate retail availability of enhanced content, and streaming capabilities on their own website platform. In addition, authors and artists are now able to reach new market segments via agreed upon cross-promotion licensing terms, bringing together avid readers and avid music lovers.

“I was super excited when I was approached to be included in this amazing opportunity to add original music inspired by the Lux Series into the actual novels,” says #1 NYT Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout. “It’s been an exciting process, and I hope the readers enjoy the music as much as I have, plus the additional insight into Kat and Daemon.”

Gold and Platinum award-winning songwriter and producer David Elliott Johnson, recognized for his most recent #1 single and Grammy-nominated Blake Shelton song, "Over", is excited to bring his 30 plus years of music business acumen to this new arena of original artist-inspired soundtracks for books.

“In this time where music seems to hold no value, it is important to evaluate the current systems of creation distribution,” says David Elliott Johnson, President of Entangled Music. “I’m excited to be a part of a new venture that has not only developed new creative outlets for artists and songwriters to be promoted and discovered, but also the ability to generate quality revenue streams for those artists and songwriters. Entangled Music is a new music model, one that works for everyone involved.”

About Liz Pelletier

Liz Pelletier is the co-founder, CEO, and publisher of Entangled Publishing, an independent publisher of romantic fiction in both the adult and young adult markets distributed globally by Macmillan Distribution. Since its first release in July 2011, Entangled has published more than 970 titles, including the #8 bestselling book of 2012 by Jennifer Probst, as well as the blockbuster young adult novel, Obsidian, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Entangled has since grown to thirteen imprints, with 42 titles appearing on the USA Today Bestsellers list and 14 titles on the NYT Bestsellers list. Currently, Entangled releases approximately 30-45 titles per month in digital-first format and 2 per month in simultaneous print and digital formats.

About David Elliott Johnson

David Elliott Johnson is a successful songwriter, drummer, and record producer. His song writing has landed him Top 10 hits around the globe. His latest success with Country superstar and judge on the hit TV show “The Voice”, Bake Shelton, gained him Gold and Platinum awards with the Grammy-nominated song, “Over”. This original composition of David’s was #1 on the Billboard Hot Country charts in Canada and the US for 2 weeks. He has also had hit radio success in Spain and Bulgaria. As a 3rd generation drummer he has shared the stage with musical legends Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Sheryl Crow, and Tito Puente, to name a few. David has also made a name for himself with some of the biggest names in film and television based on his compositions and orchestral arrangements. The majority of his music was composed, performed, and produced by himself in his own production facility, The Sound Asylum, based in the beautiful beach community of historic St Augustine, Fl.

About Entangled Music

Entangled Music an independent music company founded by Entangled Publishing CEO Liz Pelletier and Grammy-nominated songwriter David Elliott Johnson with two initial labels: Subtext Records which specializes in soundtracks for popular books, and Caffeinated Records which focuses on debut solo albums. The first singles from Subtext Records were released on November 2, 2015 and feature original music for the young adult sci-fi thriller listed by as one of the most anticipated novels of 2015, FORGET TOMORROW. 

October 21, 2015

Raquel Sofia Back Home at University of Miami

Raquel Sofía 

When I started publishing the Florida Music Letter in this electronic form, I previously launched a music blog called Weekly Music Commentary two years earlier. The two publications were different because Florida Music Letter featured music makers from the state of Florida. It also was not limited to popular artists, as I have featured music studios, colleges, events and venues. Nevertheless, I always knew the day would come when I featured an artist in both publications. In fact, I was looking forward to the time and opportunity for the occasion. However, I did not think it would take place in the same month. I have accomplished what I thought would happen three years into publishing Florida Music Letter. After interviews and events featuring so many fine Florida musicians, the first has found her place in both publications. Raquel Sofia, the rising Latin singer/songwriter is the featured Florida musician this month. Last week Raquel appeared in concert at the Festival Miami 2015. The performance was held at the Gusman Concert Hall on the campus of her alma mater University of Miami. I’m sure you will enjoy her story.

Edward Reid

Raquel Sofía graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelors degree in studio music and jazz. Originally from Mayaüez, Puerto Rico, she plays guitar and sings in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

Singer/songwriter Raquel Sofía is a Spotify “2015 Artist To Watch,” grossing over 3.6 million streams on Spotify in just 6 months, and over 9 million streams to date.  Winner of the Rudy Perez Songwriting Award, her first single “Agridulce” was named one of Beats Music’s “Best of 2014 Pop” songs.

A digital phenomenon, Raquel Sofía’s first EP, Te Odio Los Sábados, has already received over 7.6 million streams on Spotify. Her “Tiny Desk Concert” on NPR has more than 72,000 views.  She is the first Latin artist on “Vevo DSCVR,” with over 100,000 views.

Raquel Sofía’s big break came singing backup for Juanes on MTV Unplugged. She then toured as opener and backup singer with Juanes, appearing at the Latin Billboards Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Latin Grammys.  She sang backup for Shakira at the 2014 American Music Awards, Tonight Show, and The Voice (UK).

Raquel Sofía recorded vocals for the Grammy winning track “Ula Ula” by Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas, featured in Target’s “Summer Up” campaign, and she wrote and performed on HBO’s 2015 Game Of Thrones Mix Tape.

click the link below to read the article featuring Raquel Sofia in Weekly Music Commentary

Festival Miami—Florida’s Premier Live Music Festival—provides world-class musical programming in diverse styles to all of South Florida, as it continues its cultural and community legacy. The University of Miami Frost School of Music hosts Festival Miami on its picturesque Coral Gables campus in comfortable and intimate venues including the newly renovated Maurice Gusman Concert Hall and the Weeks Center for Recording and Performance. Festival sponsors enjoy high-impact visibility and advertising throughout the festival including stage banners, printed program books, brochure mailers and throughout our extensive media campaign.

Festival Miami presents 25 to 30 concerts each October and November featuring Grammy Award winning and internationally acclaimed musical guest artists, master faculty artists, and award-winning student ensembles. Several events are offered free of admission each season and educational components such as master classes, open rehearsals, and hosted conversations with artists are also presented. Residents and visitors to South Florida are invited to partake in all that Festival Miami has to offer - from world premieres and symphonic concerts, to chamber music presentations and jazz performances, and much more.

click the link below for more information about Festival Miami

photos by Amanda Julca

September 21, 2015

UF Performing Arts Welcomes New Director Brian Jose

Brian Jose has been named the new director of University of Florida Performing Arts.

Mr. Jose comes to the University of Florida from the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in Central Minnesota where he has served as the executive director of Fine Arts Programming since 2008. In this position, Jose was responsible for establishing strategic direction for the program, creating a collaborative environment between Fine Arts Programming and the faculty/staff of both college campuses.

Prior to his current position, Jose worked in various capacities for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, Arizona State University’s Herberger College of Fine Arts, the Phoenix Art Museum, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

“I am so thrilled to join one of this country’s most storied performing arts programs. It is an honor to take over for Michael Blachly, and to build on his arts legacy at this great university,” Jose said.  “I look forward to sharing my passion for the performing arts with the UF and Gainesville communities.”

Jose, who currently serves as the Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), will assume his new director duties effective early November.

University of Florida Performing Arts (UFPA) was formed in September 2000 when the Phillips Center and the newly-dedicated Baughman Center united under the direction of Michael Blachly.  In April, 2001, University Auditorium became a part of the program as well.  UFPA is responsible for building administration, technical labor, staffing, business and fiduciary oversight of these three facilities.

UFPA is a campus-based presenting organization.  Each season, UFPA presents 40-50 different events each season in the Phillips Center, University Auditorium and the Squitieri Studio Theatre (a black box venue located off the main lobby of the Phillips Center).  UFPA has also presented larger events at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.  UFPA strives to present a diversity of events from popular acts to classical to dance and beyond. 

In addition to its presented season, UFPA facilities also host rental events featuring local artists as well as national and internationally known acts.  Each season, UFPA welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors to its venues for its presented season, rental events, UF graduation ceremonies and more.

Here are a few special events coming to UFPA:


• September 27, 2015 at 7:30 pm
• September 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm
• September 29, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Location: Phillips Center

Inspired by the classic 1923 Jean Toomer novel Cane and works by the musicians, composers, poets and actors of the Harlem Renaissance. Starring the award-winning actress, singer and dancer Jasmine Guy, a modern-day Griot, and the acclaimed Avery Sharpe Trio, Raisin’ Cane celebrates and honors the legendary voices of the Harlem Renaissance through text, song, music, movement and imagery. Raisin’ Cane was written and conceived by Harry Clark with adaptation by Jasmine Guy and original musical score by Avery Sharpe.


• October 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm
• October 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Location: Phillips Center

AT THE DAWN OF A NEW CENTURY, everything is changing…and anything is possible. RAGTIME returns to the road in all-new touring production directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and produced by the team that most recently brought you THE ADDAMS FAMILY, SPAMALOT, ROCK OF AGES and THE COLOR PURPLE. The stories of an upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a daring young Harlem musician unfold – set in turn-of-the-century New York – all three united by their desire and belief in a brighter tomorrow. Their compelling stories are set to theater’s richest and most glorious Tony Award®-winning score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.

Winning Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Musical Score, this 13-time Tony Award nominated musical is a timeless celebration of life – what it could and should be!

click the link below for more information:

August 21, 2015

Spectacular Lineup of Award-Winning Artists to Perform at Festival Miami 2015

Freda Payne
The University of Miami Frost School of Music and presenting sponsor UHealth – University of Miami Health System announce the extraordinary lineup for its annual multi-genre music festival, FESTIVAL MIAMI, Florida’s premier live music festival. From October 16 to November 7, 2015, the Festival will offer vibrant performances by the biggest names on the music scene from around the globe who will showcase their talents alongside the outstanding students and faculty artists from the Frost School of Music. More than 20 performances, organized into four themes: Great Performances, Jazz and Beyond, Music of the Americas, and Creative American Music, will be held in the intimate setting of the 600-seat UM Maurice Gusman Concert Hall, 1314 Miller Drive, on the Coral Gables campus.

The Festival’s 32nd season kicks off on a bright note on October 16 when South Florida concert-goers will be treated to an unforgettable program featuring the music of three visionary American composers. The highlight of the evening will be a riveting performance by one of America’s newest artistic treasures – the Billboard chart-topping piano sensation SIMONE DINNERSTEIN who will perform the Florida premiere of Phillip Lasser’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra – The Circle and the Child with the FROST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. Alan Hovhaness’s landmark And God Created Great Whales and Howard Hanson’s epic Symphony No. 5 complete the program of standout works.

Additional Festival Miami highlights include the annual SONGWRITERS SHOWCASE – Johnny Mercer Re-Imagined, held on October 20, that will place the spotlight on the remarkable talents of songwriters and performers from the Frost School’s Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music (CAM) Program. The students will give a fresh spin on classic songs by the legendary Johnny Mercer, who penned such beloved standards as “Autumn Leaves,” “Moon River,” and “Skylark,” showcasing all new versions of classic works by this brilliant writer. This event will be hosted by Rey Sanchez, CAM Program Director and Jon Brielle, Vice President of the Johnny Mercer Foundation. The following evening, October, 21, country music fans will be treated to an “unplugged” and “in the round” evening of music by Nashville’s songwriting giants when the NASHVILLE COUNTRY ALL-STARS (Craig Carothers, Tony Arata, Dave Berg, and Annie Mosher) showcase their biggest hits recorded by Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood, Rodney Atkins, and many others. Cuban-born piano master GONZALO RUBALCABA, who has been heralded by The New York Times as “one of the greatest musicians in jazz… a pianist of almost supernatural abilities,” will be joined by his fellow Frost School faculty artists, including percussion virtuoso and winner of the Concert Artists Guild International Competition SVET STOYANOV with trumpeter/bandleader JOHN 
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
They will enthrall audiences in their new musical home with a thrilling jazz program on October 22. The Grammy-and Emmy Award winning tenor JOHN EASTERLIN will thrill audiences with Broadway and opera favorites and classic arias by Mozart, Bernstein, plus more celebrated composers on October 24 on a program that features Grammy nominated jazz arranger and Dean of the Frost School of Music SHELLY BERG as special guest. On October 25, the inimitable LOS ANGELES GUITAR QUARTET -- recognized as one of the nation’s most groundbreaking and virtuosic instrumental ensembles -- will present music from their album New Renaissance and arrangements of classics by Ralph Towner, Pat Metheny, and Chet Atkins from their Grammy-winning project Guitar Heroes, as well as premiere works by Atanas Ourkouzounov, Tilman Hoppstock, and Dweezil Zappa.

Musical sparks will fly in a new interpretation of Brahms’s Horn Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40 on October 28 when admired Frost horn faculty member, motion picture and solo recording artist RICHARD TODD performs with violin soloist and Cleveland Institute of Music’s President JOEL SMIRNOFF and award-winning pianist and NPR’s From the Top host CHRISTOPHER O’RILEY. Todd will also perform Olivier Messiaen’s solo horn work “Appel Interstellaire.” Solo piano and violin works by Bach and chamber music gems round out the evening’s program. CYRILLE AIMÉE, who is an extraordinary revelation in contemporary vocal jazz, will perform with the 2015 DownBeat Collegiate Award winning FROST STUDIO JAZZ BAND and JAZZ VOCAL 1 ENSEMBLE on October 29. The young, New York-based French singer AIMÉE blends standards with Gypsy swing and bossa nova. Since she won the 2012 Sarah Vaughan Jazz Competition, she has quickly become widely acclaimed as a favorite of jazz aficionados. Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter and pianist BEN FOLDS will perform his critically acclaimed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with the Frost School’s stellar HENRY MANCINI INSTITUTE ORCHESTRA on October 30. His concerto, which he composed in 2013 and has since been performed by symphony orchestras to sold-out audiences around the globe, will be featured on his upcoming new album "So There," which is slated for release in September 2015."

On Halloween afternoon, the FROST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA presents Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Children’s Suite for Orchestra) by John Williams, plus music by Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky. The young and young-at-heart are invited to dress in Halloween costumes and enjoy post-concert treats courtesy of Festival Miami.

Black Violin
The Festival continues on November 1 with an exhilarating sonic celebration when the violin/viola hip-hop duo BLACK VIOLIN, comprised of string musicians Kev Marcus and Wil B, will once again shatter stereotypes of classical musicians by offering their fresh take on classical music, incorporating influences from R&B and soul to rock and beyond. Named one of the hottest new bands at the South by Southwest (SXSW®) Festival, Black Violin is sure to “wow” audiences with their high-energy, genre-bending sounds. Grammy nominated jazz organist extraordinaire JOEY DeFRANCESCO has been credited with being a vital force in the revival of the Hammond B3 organ as a jazz instrument. On November 3, he will entertain audiences with his swinging style and astounding originality as he performs in the great tradition of the unforgettable Jimmy Smith. FREDA PAYNE, who will forever be associated with her 1970 breakthrough R&B hit “Band of Gold,” returns to her musical roots as an American jazz singer in the tradition of Nancy Wilson and Ella Fitzgerald on November 5. She will captivate audiences with her artistic prowess on a program that includes “Save Your Love for Me,” plus more enthralling selections with a trio that will feature Frost School of Music Dean SHELLY BERG on piano.

July 21, 2015

A Conversation With the Amazing Nestor Torres

Born in Puerto Rico, Nestor Torres has made music all his life; first playing drums at age 5, and then flute at twelve years old. Moving to New York City in his teenage years, he studied at Mannes School of Music, Berklee College of Music & the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, while at the same time learning to improvise in the ‘Charanga’ Cuban Dance Music style, which, combined with his Classical training and Jazz sensibility, shaped and developed Nestor’s melodic and danceable sound. Nestor’s command of his instrument allows him a freedom of expression that is at once captivating and liberating, powerful and genuine.

One of the joys in life is an opportunity to engage in an informative conversation. A few weeks ago I certainly enjoyed speaking with one of the great jazz musical artists of our time, Nestor Torres. Torres has the reputation of being one of the most talented flautists in South Florida and throughout the world. Also, most will readily tell you he is one of the most humble musicians you will ever meet. After speaking with him at length I can say first hand that the aforementioned characteristics are true. However, our conversation proved to be one of the most insightful since I began publishing. Nestor Torres is quite intelligent, witty and extremely knowledgeable about music in general. My hope is that everyone will enjoy meeting one of finest musicians who calls the state of Florida home. 

Why did you choose the flute as your musical instrument?

As a child I was surrounded by musicians, my father was a musician as well as cousins who played musical instruments. In Puerto Rico where I grew up, in key cities there were free music schools. Most students were choosing popular instruments like trumpet, saxophone, piano etc. At the time I was asked what instrument I wanted to play. Not really sure, I saw a picture of a flute. I recalled times hearing the music of the flute in other recordings and in the orchestra, and decided this would be the instrument I would play. 

Who influenced you most early in your development?

First, my father was most influential. He never really learned to read music, but was one of the finest musicians I have ever known. He was very demanding musically, but truly was a huge part of my musical development. Second, Tito Puente. I remember going to hear Tito play in New York, and he allowed me to sit in with the band. Puente explained that for this style of music, you will have to play in the third octave, or higher octave. This was such a clear directive but certainly helped me in later working with other Latin artists. Third, Hubert Laws set the standard for all jazz flautist. Listening to Hubert play changed my life. Certainly he is considered a master of the flute.

You attended some prestigious music schools in the northeast, which one stood out as the best for you?

Good question. I would have to say the New England conservatory. At the time every musician was required to read music in several different ways. Students had to be proficient with the piano, and have a sound grasp of music theory. New England Conservatory at that time was groundbreaking because they had jazz studies as well as contemporary and classical instruction, essentially breaking the barrier between the different musical genres. Also, Boston is such a rich musically cultural city, so yes, New England Conservatory would be the school that stood out the most to me.

Much was reported about your accident several years ago, are you okay today?

It has been 25 years. I am very blessed and grateful. although I have some aches and pains overall I am fully recovered and doing fine. There were a lot of negative consequences following the accident, but I learned a lot from the harsh realities of life. I had to make a choice, when confronted with a hopeless situation. Something that occurs that is so painful and catastrophic is the time when we find opportunity for growth and development.

You travel and perform l over the world. Do you like living in Miami?

Absolutely, I am very grateful to call Miami home. Miami has always been good to me.

In your opinion, what is the state of S. Florida’s jazz music scene?

There are some very exciting things happening in South Florida. When performing in South Florida I play at the nightclub Jazziz, in Boca Raton. The scene continues to evolve with contributions from great musicians like Silvano Monasterios. Also, radio station WDNA does some wonderful things promoting jazz music and playing music for the community. There are many truly wonderful musicians in the area, like saxophonist Ed Calle, and UM Music Dean Shelly Berg. The infusion of talent from Venezuela is helping the evolution of South Florida into a very vibrant jazz scene. 

Nestor and I spoke about his current project Neodance. I thought best to include a link to the website and information about this very unique production. 

Neodance™ is a dynamic Tango fusion of rhythms and dance. Weaving Tango as the common thread, Neodance combines a blend of the hottest genres in Latin music and Jazz with the sensual, seductive dances of Tango and Salsa. Nestor Torres' creative and innovative genius brings MrDance's vision to life... and now to the world.

June 21, 2015

They Are Fit For Rivals

Fit For Rivals

“The band already has millions of hits on YouTube for their previous tracks “Damage” and “Crash” and it’s obvious why – the music is solid, delivering a blend of grunge rock and punk similar to Bush, Hole and Foo Fighters.” -Curve Magazine

Fit for Rivals formed in 2008. Fit For Rivals began when Renee Phoenix met Thomas Amason while looking for a new guitarist for her band The Explicits. From there, they decided to set up a whole new project. Their debut album, Steady Damage, was released independently in 2009. The track 'Crash' has been used on PPV WWE: Over The Limit, the feature film 'Legendary' starring Danny Glover and John Cena and various other films and television programs. They recently signed with Big 3 Records and are scheduled to release their second studio album through them in early 2015.

Fit For Rivals is comprised of Phoenix (lead vocals), Amason (guitar/backing vocals), Dorman Panfoeder (drums), Eli Clark (bass/backing vocals) and Rufino Lomboy (lead guitar). The band offers an eclectic mix of genres such as rock, screamo, pop, punk and electronic resonating with fans from all over. Lead singer Renee’s heavy-metal-rasp vocals have been compared to legendary singer/songwriters Joan Jett and Brody Dalle. Musician Photo Journal reviewed the band’s SNOCORE Tour 2015 and exclaimed, “Vocalist, Renee Phoenix reminds me of a young Joan Jett. Especially in songs like “Hit Me Like A Man” and “Crash.” They are definitely a band to keep an ear out for and eyes peeled for them to come to town.”

Jacksonville-based active rockers, Fit For Rivals, completed the 2015 Revolver Tour this April. With the release of hit single “Freak Machine,” via Big 3 Records/Sony Red, the band has been generating quite a buzz., who premiered the newest track, raved “‘Freak Machine’ is instantly catchy with a steady groove and constant build-up that feels like the song could go off the rails at any moment.” Fresh off Snocore tour 2015, where Fit For Rivals supported Flyleaf, Adelita's Way and Framing Hanley, the band will join Flyleaf on the road again for the Revolver Tour. They will be hitting major US cities that include St. Louis, Tulsa, Dallas, Nashville, West Columbia, Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Saint Petersburg, Pensacola and Houston.  

Fit For Rivals has managed to create a fierce musical signature incomparable to anything else. The Post-Gazette raves, “After listening to their music, it made sense as the band’s highly melodic sound attracts a fan base that includes followers of Queens of the Stone Age, Paramore and The Faint.” Signed to Big 3 Records, Fit For Rivals are currently in the process of recording their second studio album of title track “Freak Machine.” They have a massive fan base after earning nearly 20 million views on YouTube and they have also played with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Hoobastank, Blameshift and Icon For Hire. Be sure to stay updated with this band on the rise by checking out their website HERE and keeping up with their nationwide tour.

* top photo by Kurt Hudson

May 21, 2015

Jacksonville Ready for Country Superfest!

Zac Brown Band
Get Ready! It’s time for the 2015 Florida Country Superfest. Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, Brantley Gilbert, Cole Swindell, Tyler Farr, David Nail, Colt Ford, The Swon Brothers and Danielle Bradbery will headline the second edition of the mega-fest at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field on June 13 and 14. Drawing over 80,000 country music loving fans from coast to coast, the 2014 Florida Country Superfest had a total economic impact of approximately $37 million on the Jacksonville region.

The day-by-day schedule is as follows:


Saturday, June 13                    

Zac Brown Band                        

Keith Urban                                

Cole Swindell                             

David Nail                                  

Danielle Bradbery                      

Sunday, June 14

Kenny Chesney

Brantley Gilbert

Tyler Farr

Colt Ford

The Swon Brothers

Quint Davis, Producer/Director of the Florida Country Superfest said, “With the financial commitment of our partners at AEG Live, and with the leadership of the City of Jacksonville and community wide support from organizations such as Gator Bowl Sports, the Tourist Development Council, JAX Chamber, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Visit Jacksonville and our hosts, SMG Jacksonville, we are bringing another great American country music festival to Jacksonville, that will once again rock the socks off of EverBank Field.”
Kenny Chesney
“The Florida Country Superfest is a phenomenal event and we are thrilled that it is coming back to Jacksonville and EverBank Field,” said Mayor Alvin Brown. “This year’s success proves that major events create a positive economic impact by bringing thousands of country music fans to Jacksonville from across the country and the world while showing our great city as a leading entertainment destination.”

For the 2015 event, Gator Bowl Sports has partnered with the Florida Country Superfest to assist in securing event sponsorships.

Rick Catlett, President & CEO, Gator Bowl Sports said, “We are extremely excited to be able to play a small role in one of Jacksonville’s premiere events. This is another example of why we felt so strongly about creating a privately funded entity, Gator Bowl Sports. The opportunity to work with our business community and helping these types of events grow is what Gator Bowl Sports is all about.”

To inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Alan Verlander with Gator Bowl Sports at (904) 798-5985.

Festival-goers should plan to arrive early for the official Florida Country Superfest Fan Fest & Tailgate Party located directly outside EverBank Field, featuring a country music stage, artist meet and greets, festive food, and much more.

Two-day festival ticket packages as well as reserved parking for Florida Country Superfest are available through, all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling (800) 745-3000 or by visiting the Tom Bush Family of Dealerships Box Office at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Special stage-front, standing-room tickets in an area called the Golden Horseshoe will be available in very limited supply. Don’t forget to purchase parking in one of EverBank Field’s premium parking lots. Single-day tickets may go on sale in the coming weeks, pending availability.

Patrons interested in purchasing box suites should call the Florida Country Superfest Ticket Office at 866-410-5771.

Make sure to book your hotel accommodations early for the Superfest. Go to for a listing of hotels and rate information.

Visit and sign up for the mailing list to get the latest information on the festival or join the Superfest community on Facebook or Twitter.

The Tourist Development Council of Jacksonville is a sponsor of the Country Superfest.

Florida Country Superfest is produced by Festival Productions, Inc. – New Orleans and AEG Live and produced in association with The Messina Group and SMG.

April 21, 2015

40 years of KC and the Sunshine Band...and more!

On March 20, 2015 I attended the KC and the Sunshine Band concert at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fl. The Hard Rock Live is a wonderful venue and so appropriate for a homecoming of this magnitude. KC and the Sunshine Band was born in the South Florida community and many local musicians have made their way to the stage with the group. As Harry Casey (KC) started to perform, immediately my thoughts turned to some of the great musicians who were a part of the Sunshine Band. I remember some friends and musical acquaintances who took their turns playing with the band. High profile original members Jerome Smith (guitar) and Robert Johnson (drums) died some years ago. Backup singer Beverly Champion, Bass player Richard Finch and so many other great music makers who performed with the group certainly must be in KC’s memory constantly. All things change over a long period of years as KC told the audience he is now 64 years old. For those of us who remember those initial hit songs of KC and the Sunshine Band, we now realize that we are celebrating 40 years of musical history. As for the concert, I listened along with the large audience of fans and enjoyed the very accomplished new Sunshine Band deliver all the classic hits of yesterday.

Edward Reid

KC and the Sunshine Band are still as widely popular today as they were when they first danced into the music scene 40 years ago.  Harry Wayne Casey – KC for short – developed an audio rainbow of many roots -- with a unique fusion of R&B and funk, and a hint of a Latin percussion groove. A sound spanning many generations, the band has given us an impressive string of hits like “GET DOWN TONIGHT”, “THAT’S THE WAY (I LIKE IT)” and “SHAKE YOUR BOOTY.” With sales of over 100 million records, nine Grammy nominations, three Grammy Awards and an American Music Award, KC and the Sunshine Band was one of the most progressive bands of the 70’s and is credited with changing the sound of modern pop music. KC’s songs have stood the test of time -- and you can ask any one of the thousands of fans who spend the entire concert on their feet, dancing and shaking their booty.

For the first time in over a decade, KC and the Sunshine Band is back in 2015 with a new album, Feeling You! The 60s. The album is a tribute to the era that shaped H.W. Casey into the revolutionary artist he became in the 70s, as a young person becoming acquainted with the world around him. Just like the rest of America during that time he was shaped by the music, conflicts, innocence, sex, social and political movements and counterculture of the era – which led to him founding the Dance Revolution and teaching the world how to boogie. “The widespread social and political issues of the 1960s was, in part, the inspiration to do something that would make people forget about their problems and be happy,” said Casey. “People were looking for something that would divert their attention from the negative aspects of everyday life surrounding them.”

The brand-new release is part one of the two-part Feeling You project, and features covers of songs by sixties legends Bob Dylan, Ben E. King, The Kinks, The Righteous Brothers, Jackie DeShannon, Aaron Neville and many more. “I’m excited for my fans to hear this album,” said Casey. “I really went outside of the box vocally and creatively. Feeling You! The 60s is autobiographical, showing how I feel about love, life and the world through the music of that era.”

Continuing his legacy as The Founder of The Dance Revolution, H.W. Casey started working in the music business at age 17, performing menial tasks around the T.K. Records/Studio complex in his hometown of Miami. The Sunshine Band originated in 1973. Their first record, ‘Blow Your Whistle’, made the top 15 on the R & B chart. Their second album, KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND, was released in 1975, went triple platinum and contained the No. 1 hits “GET DOWN TONIGHT,” “THAT’S THE WAY (I LIKE IT),” “BOOGIE SHOES,” and “ROCK YOUR BABY.”  They became the first act to score four No. 1 pop singles in one 12-month period since the Beatles in 1964. Three of those singles crossed over to become No. 1 R&B, as well.

KC’s third album, Part 3, released in 1976, also went triple platinum and contained the #1 singles “I’M YOUR BOOGIE MAN,” “SHAKE YOUR BOOTY” and “KEEP IT COMIN’ LOVE”.  The band’s string of hit singles continued with “BOOGIE SHOES”, which was included on the SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER soundtrack, “PLEASE DON’T GO,” and “YES, I’M READY,” a duet with high school friend Teri DeSario. KC returned to the charts in 1983 with “GIVE IT UP,” which also hit #1 in the UK.

KC won a songwriting Grammy in 1976 for best R&B song for “WHERE IS THE LOVE,” which was recorded by Betty Wright.  He also received Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, as well as Producer of the Year in 1978 for his work on the SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER soundtrack.

In 1975 he won the American Music Award for Best R&B Artist.  In 2001, KC was honored with the NARAS Governor’s Award, the highest honor given by a chapter of the Academy.

KC’s music continues to be a favorite today.  His songs have appeared in ads for companies like General Motors, Burger King, Payless Shoes, Papa Jon’s Pizza, Old Navy, and Nick at Night.
His music has also been featured in over 200 commercials and movies such as Forrest Gump (“Get Down Tonight”), Boogie Nights (“Boogie Shoes”), Boys Don’t Cry (“Rock Your Baby”), Rush Hour (“Get Down Tonight”), Carlito’s Way (“Rock Your Baby”, “Shake Your Booty” and “That’s The Way I Like It”), and Austin Powers in Goldmember.  In the summer of 2003, KC had a cameo in the feature film The In-Laws starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks.

KC’s songs are regularly heard at EVERY MAJOR sporting event, and were even featured during Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. KC also performed a free concert in Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and recently in 2015 at the 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships. No stranger to the small screen, KC’s songs have been featured in such shows as Desperate Housewives, Ally McBeal, American Bandstand’s 50th Anniversary Party and most recently on American Idol and Dancing With The Stars with the help of the USC marching band.  KC and the Sunshine Band has the distinction of having made more appearances on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve than any other artist in the program’s history!

Music acts like White Zombie, Baha Men, Beyoncé Knowles and American Idols Kelly & Justin have covered their music.  Additionally, KC and the Sunshine Band’s grooves and bass lines have been sampled in everything from R&B by R. Kelly to Rap by Snoop Dogg and Trick Daddy to Dance by Ultra Nate and many, many more.

From the time of his biggest hits, KC has toured regularly in the U.S., Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.  In 1995, he recorded ‘Get Down Live,’ a concert album that was gleaned from his performances in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Peru and Melbourne, Australia.  KC’s ‘The Best of KC and the Sunshine Band’ went gold in 1999.  KC and The Sunshine Band celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1999 with a commemorative double CD release titled ‘The 25th Anniversary Collection,’ and in fall of 2001, KC released an album of all-new material entitled ‘I’ll Be There For You.’  Proceeds from the title song, released as a single, were donated to the September 11 relief effort.  From the beginning, KC and the Sunshine Band wrote songs that spoke to a generation and in the 90’s a new generation began discovering disco with fresh ears and that discovery continues to this day.

In 2002 KC received the coveted Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where Dick Clark and music producer Michael Lloyd turned out to honor him.   This particular honor represents the passion that KC has in writing music, implementing elements of various eras with his songs being a powerful signature from a passionate veteran craftsman.

That’s The Way I Like It – The Harry Wayne Casey Story, a book that chronicles KC’s career, was published in the Fall of 2002.

You can count on hearing his music on the radio, at a nightclub, at the movies, in a sports arena or at one of the 100-plus concerts KC and the Sunshine Band plays every year.  It is always fun and truly makes all who hear it happy enough to dance!

March 21, 2015

Gulf Coast Symphony Serving Southwest Florida for 20 Years

The Gulf Coast Symphony is Southwest Florida’s premier community orchestra, and one of the largest community orchestras in the country. The Symphony was founded by Music Director and Conductor Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz in the 1995–1996 season. Each year, the 70-member orchestra presents its highly popular Symphonic Pops Series and Classical Access Series, both of which are held at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. A holiday concert, a free outdoor pops concerts, and family concerts are also scheduled. Look for Gulf Coast Symphony ensemble performances and outreach and educational programs throughout Southwest Florida from October through June.

DISCOVER the Instruments of the Orchestra!
Interact with orchestra members and their instruments.

Based on the popular “Musical Discovery Zone” from the Our Family Concerts, the FREE Musical Discovery Series offers children the chance to engage with musicians and their instruments in a fun, relaxed environment. The program consists of a Musical Discovery Zone, where kids meet several musicians from the orchestra and can try their own hand at playing some instruments. The musicians provide examples of the different sounds the instruments make by playing short classical as well as kid-familiar pieces, and answer children’s questions. Then, the program moves to the theatre for a performance!

Recommended for children K-6.

Early Gateways

Through Early Gateways, our music teacher teaches provides instruction to pre-schoolers at Kids Konnection Day Care of Messiah Lutheran Church in Cape Coral. The course instructs four-year-olds in basic music terms, teaches them how notes and rhythm come together, and introduces them to a variety of instruments. Near the end of the semester, a quartet from the Symphony visits the school to give the children the chance to see and hear firsthand what they’ve learned.

“For these children, many of whom come from lower-income families, this is their only opportunity to really learn about music and to begin to appreciate the complexity and artistry of what they hear,” says Betsy Randolph, who helped develop the curriculum and has taught the program since 2010. For example, in one lesson series, the children work with hand chimes, learning how musicians use rhythm and read notes to be able to play a piece together—to make music. During the quartet’s visit, the children are able to see these ideas in action with more advanced music and highly trained musicians; they also get to hear, see, and touch the instruments they otherwise would only ever hear about.

Kids Konnection Day Care is not open to the public—contact the Gulf Coast Symphony to find out how you can get involved or to bring Early Gateways to your pre-school or pre-K program.

Gateway to the Arts

We work with a variety of schools in Lee County to offer students of all ages further opportunities for music education:

  • We provide free and subsidized tickets to students and their families
  • We provide performance opportunities for high school and college students
  • Smaller chamber groups of our musicians play at area schools
  • Our week-long Artist Residency Program brings professional artists to Fort Myers to participate in outreach activities and perform education work in our partner schools

Dr. Andrew Kurtz

Gulf Coast Symphony founder Andrew Kurtz is the Symphony’s Music & Executive Director and Conductor. His conducting has been called “passionate, expansive, expert, and musical.” He was named the 2007 Performing Artist of the Year at Lee County’s Angel of the Arts Awards. Kurtz’s repertoire encompasses a wide range of music styles from baroque to contemporary, and multiple genres including symphonic, opera, ballet, musical theater, jazz, cantorial, and symphonic pops.

Kurtz is also general & artistic director of the Center City Opera Theater, a professional company in Philadelphia dedicated to new work, new audiences, and new artists. He has led over four dozen productions including numerous world or regional premieres. Notable productions that received international praise and recognition include the world premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (chamber version), the East Coast premiere of Daniel Catan’s Il Postino, the world premiere of Paul Morovec’s Danse Russe, and the world premiere of Michael Ching’s Slaying the Dragon.

Additionally, Kurtz is the international tour conductor for CANTORS: A Faith In Song, featuring three of the world’s leading cantors. He served as the music director of the Florida Jewish Philharmonic Orchestra and as producing artistic director of Synergy Productions, a professional musical theater company in Southwest Florida.

Kurtz is a past-president of the board of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts. An avid arts educator, Maestro Kurtz was resident music director at the Luzerne Music Center. In 2001 he won first prize in the Dell’Arte di Firenze International Conducting Competition, and made his European conducting debut in Florence. In 1995 Kurtz made his international operatic debut in Tel Aviv while working as a staff conductor at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute. In 1997 he conducted the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s educational tour production of The Best of Puccini. He was a scholarship conducting student at the prestigious Aspen Music Festival, and boasts numerous other conducting credits, including the Pennsylvania Opera Theater, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Charlotte Symphony, Gonzaga Symphony, and the Ocean City Pops.

Kurtz completed his doctoral studies in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia where he received his master’s degree in music history and a bachelor of arts in music and drama. A native of Philadelphia, Kurtz has called Southwest Florida home since 1993.

To receive additional general information or performance dates and locations, click the link below:

February 21, 2015

The Music of Michael Sterling

Several weeks ago I had the honor and privilege to sit down and speak with one of the most accomplished musicians in Miami, Florida, Mr. Michael Sterling.  In fact, he is well known around the world for his work with many high profiled artists throughout the music industry. As I began our conversation I started by stating that I feel Miami is a small town, and that musicians usually know about the work of other musicians regardless of musical genre. Because of the complex but diminutive community, I was aware of just about all of his accomplishments, but this was the first time I would get the opportunity to speak with him directly. I also told Sterling that of all of the styles of music and musical projects that have been completed in Miami, he seemed to be the only one to touch them all. R&B, Rap music, Reggae and Latin music, Michael Sterling has been involved with them all – and has enjoyed success. Before I realized it, Sterling and I had talked for hours. He is extremely personable and possesses a wealth of information about music of yesterday and today. Therefore, if you have heard of Michael Sterling as a solo artist, then sit back and learn a little more about his continuing successful music career. If you are not familiar with Sterling’s work, then you are about to be introduced to one of the most diverse musicians, and music business leader in the world today. 

Edward Reid

What can you call someone who plays many musical instruments, composes, arranges, directs, sings and has been a skilled songwriter for years? Generic labels like impresario, maestro, multi-talented or Renaissance man don’t seem to encompass the extraordinary gift of Michael Sterling’s musicianship. So what you do when faced with this seeming inability to describe such a wondrous gift is delve deeper into who this artist is –knowing that if you experience his music through his perception — the words you seek will finally come.

Understanding Michael’s music requires you to know a bit of his background. A Miami native, his musical career started in his teens when he played bass for popular Latino recording artist Ray Fernandez. Eager to branch out into another direction, Michael and two childhood friends formed the group Silver Platinum, who quickly scored a hit on the R&B charts with their hit “Dance”. Michael then went on to play Lead guitar and to sing and record as a member of the Grammy Award winning reggae band Inner Circle. Inner Circle is most known for their hit “Bad Boys” which is used as the theme song for the Bad Boys film franchise that stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. It is also used as the theme song for hit television show COPS.

After touring the world with Inner Circle, Michael returned to Miami. While developing his career as a solo artist, Michael also spent time as an audio engineer and producer at Luke Records, where he produced hits for local artists 2 Live Crew, MC Shy D, famed rapper JT Money and others. He also served as musical director for Arista BMG recording artist Blu Cantrell. While assisting in the development of other artists careers, Michael continued to strengthen as a songwriter, and soon found many of his original compositions being covered by some of the hottest artists of the day i.g. The Song “ALWAYS” by TRINA feat. Monica is a derivative cover of Michael’s song, I will always be there for you, His song “Holiday” served as inspiration for the derivative Trick Daddy single “Thug Holiday”, which is also the title track of Trick’s Platinum album. Then Lil’ Jon and the East Side Boys, Usher and Ludacris covered his song “ Lovers and Friends” for their smash 2005 single of the same name.

The song was released on the quadruple platinum album “Crunk Juice” and was the winner of two BMI Billboard awards including ‘Hip Hop Song of the Year’. In 2006, his song “Bedroom Boom” was covered by The Ying Yang Twins featuring Avant on the platinum Ying Yang CD “U.S.A”. Michael continues to use his formidable talents as a music industry heavyweight. His charismatic and unique voice has been featured in performances on the Today Show and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It is no surprise that this industry leader has expanded his scope of entertainment interest to motion pictures. MSMG, The Michael Sterling Music Group in association with Infinity Productions released the film: "ALMOST RELATED" Shot primarily on location in Thailand, the movie score features a few of the crème de la crème of MSMG’s impressive artist roster that includes himself, "Red Serious" "Silver Platinum" Black List and the R&B group FAZE.

And so we return to the question of what do you call a man whose gifts run the gamut from music to film to label executive and whose artistry as a musician covers the genres of pop, reggae, hip hop and R&B? You call him what he is. A virtuoso — a musical genius whose career will only continue to inspire and awe all those who have the unique privilege of consuming his music.

January 21, 2015

Adrienne Arsht Center - 20 Year Dream Fulfilled

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County has been a dream of South Florida patrons, artists, civic and government leaders for the past 20 years. Since the 1980s, the arts and business community, and especially the leaders and supporters of five performing arts companies — Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and, New World Symphony as well as the Florida Philharmonic and Concert Association of Florida, which are no longer in operation — spearheaded the effort to build a performing arts venue, beautifully designed and equipped with state-of-the-art resources, in which to present performances of the highest artistic quality and widest diversity, where audiences could enjoy an incomparable entertainment experience.

In the mid-80s, the Miami-Dade County Commission began exploring the composition and location for a proposed performing arts center and, after extensive studies, approved a financing plan for the Center in 1990. Miami-Dade County would own the Center complex and oversee its construction. The performing arts organizations that would become the Center’s resident companies formed the Performing Arts Center Foundation in late 1990 which, under the leadership of Board Chairman Sherwood M. Weiser, would lead the campaign to raise the private sector funds committed to this project. The Performing Arts Center Trust, a non-profit corporation governed by a volunteer board, was created in 1991 to manage and operate the Center, including overseeing planning, design, and construction of the Center, together with Miami-Dade County. The project would become the largest public-private partnership ever undertaken by the County.

By mid-1991, a site for the Adrienne Arsht Center was chosen on 5.9 acres of land generously donated by Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Knight Ridder. The future Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County was to be located along two square blocks flanking historic Biscayne Boulevard between Northeast 13th and 14th Streets, a prime location in the heart of downtown Miami with access to main highways and to public transportation; nearby retail, hotel and educational developments; and direct views to Government Cut and the Port of Miami. Because of its strategic location, monumental presence, and economic impact, the Center was destined to become a catalyst for redevelopment and revitalization of Miami’s downtown and Biscayne corridor.

In March 1996, the architectural firm of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was chosen to design the Center, along with acoustician Russell Johnson of ARTEC, Inc. and theater planning and design consultant Joshua Dachs of Fisher Dachs Associates, Inc. In October 1997, Miami-Dade Art in Public Places Trust commissioned several site-specific art installations which would complement and enhance the Center’s architecture while delighting the senses. The works include lobby floors and railings by José Bedia, a large-scale glass tile mural by Cundo Bermudez, outdoor water and seating elements by Anna Valentina Murch, a site-specific art installation for the Ziff Ballet Opera House plaza by Gary Moore, and a proscenium curtain and organ scrim designed by Robert Rahway Zakanitch. In addition to these permanent art installations, Miami-Dade Art In Public Places Trust commissioned a documentary video by Konstantia Kontaxis and Ed Talavera focusing on the design development, fabrication and installation of each of the works, which made its debut during Art Basel Miami Beach 2006.

In the late 1990s, the Center received a substantial personal gift from Ted Arison, founder and chairman emeritus of Carnival Corporation. In honor of Arison’s generous $10 million donation, one of the Center’s main theaters was named the Carnival Concert Hall. Dr. Sanford L. Ziff, founder of Sunglass Hut International, also made a substantial contribution of $10 million which was honored with naming rights to the Center’s other main theater, which became the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House.

Construction began in 2001 – upon approval by the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners of the construction contract by Performing Arts Center Builders, a partnership of Odebrecht Construction, Inc., The Haskell Company and Ellis Don Corporation.

On July 19, 2006, the Center celebrated a landmark moment in its fundraising history with the acceptance of two multi-million-dollar gifts from Carnival Corporation & plc and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, two organizations whose involvement with the Center dates back to the planning stages. The Center, previously named Miami Performing Arts Center, was renamed Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in honor of a $20 million aggregate gift from Carnival Corporation. Concurrently, the Center’s Concert Hall, previously known as the Carnival Concert Hall, was renamed the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall in appreciation of a $10 million gift from the Knight Foundation.

The Center celebrated its highly anticipated, history-making four-day Grand Opening from October 5 – 8, 2006 with performances by best-selling pop stars and exciting young artists, spectacular fireworks, appearances by celebrities and dignitaries, a free all-day multicultural extravaganza, and an array of stunning performances from its four resident companies – Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy.

On January 10, 2008, Adrienne Arsht, national business leader, philanthropist, and supporter of the Center since its inception, made a $30 million donation to the Center. The gift was announced by Sherwood (Woody) Weiser, Foundation Chairman Emeritus.  In recognition of the gift, Carnival Center for the Performing Arts was renamed the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. Carnival Corporation graciously agreed to relinquish the naming rights in favor of this new major donation. The Center kept the original Arison family gift of $10 million in return for naming of the Studio Theater, bridge and Art Deco Tower.

In May 2010, the Adrienne Arsht Center launched its ground-breaking Learning Through the Arts program, providing live music, theater, and dance experiences to Miami-Dade County youth -- completely free of charge -- via the public school system’s Passport to Culture initiative.  The inaugural Learning Through the Arts performance was a world premiere rock opera adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey to which 25,000 Miami-Dade Public School students were invited.

The Adrienne Arsht Center also unveiled a unique pre- and post-show amenity.  Prelude by Barton G is a full-service restaurant offering a sophisticated dining adventure right on the Center’s campus.

Additional information about the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is available online at

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is made possible by the public support of the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council and the City of Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, as well as the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The Adrienne Arsht Center also receives generous support from local, state and national foundations, as well as private contributions to the Adrienne Arsht Center Foundation through corporate and individual giving, Visionary Society membership and the Encore Circle major gifts programs.