linda-johnson.jpgMiami’s Overtown was the place to be last Saturday for the June installment of Expressions, which is quickly becoming the city’s premier event for lovers of spoken word and jazz. The Black Archives presented yet another great cultural affair on the grounds of the historic Ward Rooming House Gallery, at Northwest Second Avenue and Ninth Street, that transported guests back to Overtown’s heyday.

More than 200 people walked the red carpet and crossed the threshold of the gallery, which featured the debut of a new exhibit, Miami’s Overtown, The Harlem of the South. Photographs depicting Overtown’s illustrious nightlife in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, adorn the gallery walls, and drew visitors into the area’s rich past. Following the gallery tour, guests moved to the outdoor lounge, which was exquisitely and expertly created by The Design Group, the major sponsor of Expressions. The chic atmosphere was comfortable, exciting and inspiring. Hosted by Miami’s own Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns, the spoken word presentations by Bertrand Boyd II, Camelia “Red Writing Hood” Brown, and Bird Sanders engaged and entertained listeners. Guests also had the opportunity to participate in the open mic segments between grooving to the sounds of Jody Hill and the Deep Fried Funk Band and DJ BAMA. And the food … Well, delicious chicken and waffles were graciously prepared and served by Jackson’s Soul Food Restaurant, another Overtown institution. The evening was coordinated by Timothy Barber, executive director of the Black Archives, and his energetic staff: Victoria Henry, Kamila Pritchett and Ryan Smith. Also on hand to welcome guests were Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Black Archives founder and board member, and Clarence Woods, executive director of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency. If you missed this one, you really missed it. Hope to see you July 20 for Expressions – White Hot Summer in Overtown. We look forward to the total renaissance of Overtown, and The Black Archives is making it happen!

Jazz masters and aficionados alike gathered at downtown Miami’s newest jazz venue, Avenue D Jazz and Blues Lounge, for the fourth annual South Florida Jazz Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert on June 23. This singular recognition is sponsored by the Sunshine Jazz Organization (SJO) and was founded by Miami’s own First Lady of Jazz, Alice “The Lady” Day, who orchestrated a jammin’ evening that honored six of South Florida’s jazz greats: Dolph Castellano, Joe Donato Alan Grant, and posthumously, Myrtle Jones, Sam Jones and Jet Nero.  All the musicians are renowned for their talent and professionalism and have left their mark throughout the South Florida arts community — and beyond. About 75 patrons witnessed the induction of these music icons, whose careers span more than seven decades. Tracy Fields, the host/producer of 91.3 WLRN radio’s Evenin’ Jazz, emceed the program and presented the awards. Guests enjoyed performances throughout the evening by the Dolph Castellano Trio, Joe Donato, Mel Dancy, and, of course, the inimitable Lady Day. Seen on the scene were Othello Molineaux (2009 inductee); The Mahj himself, China Valles, and his wife Thelma; Holly Spillane (SJO vice president); Charlie Boyer, publisher of Jazz & Blues Florida;  musicians Ted McDermott, Bobby Thomas and Mike Woods; Allen Kanowsky; Eileen McCaskill (Philadelphia, Pa.); and Pamela Valles. Congratulations to the honorees, and hats off to Lady Day for keeping jazz alive in the heart of the city in between touring in Europe and Asia.  If you love jazz, then join the SJO every month through September at the stylish Avenue D, located at Eight S. Miami Ave., for a fantastic jazz journey.

Mixing, mingling, and summer fun — Palm Beach style — are all on tap at the upcoming Brandon Flowers’ Charity Bowling Bash set for Thursday, July 11, at CineBowl & Grille in Delray Beach. Flowers, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs cornerback and Delray Beach native, is once again hosting this benefit to support Prep & Sports, Inc., a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing academic guidance and athletic-performance training for at-risk youth. Jamael Stewart, co-founder of Prep & Sports, Inc., invites all South Floridians to come out and support this worthy cause. Even if you don’t bowl, you will certainly enjoy good food and music, a silent auction, and meeting Flowers, as well as other NFL players and community supporters. The bowling bash is the first of a weekend of activities, including an NFL all-star camp and high school football tournament. Call 404-655-2412 for tickets and more information.

Linda J. Johnson, a Miami native, is a veteran educator with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and a certified etiquette consultant who also serves on nonprofit boards in the community. She can be reached at