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.