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Overture to Overtown text on a teal oval with line drawings of instruments in the background.

The Betsy's 11th Annual Overture To Overtown Jazz Festival

Building Community Through Music

April 1 to 30, 2023

"Jazz speaks for life … This is triumphant music. … and now it is imported to the world."
Martin Luther King, Berlin Jazz Festival, 1964 

The Betsy’s Annual ‘Overture to Overtown’ (OTO) Jazz Festival 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 Overtown’s heyday — and on Miami Beach — stars like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker performed the same jazz standards that are performed nightly at The Betsy and will be performed live at this year’s Overture to Overtown (OTO) Festival. Historic figures like Martin Luther King, Langston Hughes, and Muhammed Ali also frequented Overtown, and were champions of its cultural legacy.

The Betsy’s 11th Annual ‘Overture to Overtown’ Jazz Festival takes place in tandem with Jazz Appreciation Month, created by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz, which also includes a special celebration of UNESCO’s International Jazz Day. The Betsy’s 2023 Festival features 30 days of jazz, involving the best and brightest players in Miami – as well as two NY-based artists, one emerging and one legacy. Nine weekly performances will be presented in The Betsy’s Lobby Salon, with additional Sunday evening concerts, presented on the Ocean Drive Promenade in partnership with the Ocean Drive Association and the City of Miami Beach. The 2023 Festival also includes two performances at Ward’s Rooming House in historic Overtown. 

Visit our Calendar for details.

OTO Calendar of Events 2023


Duke Ellington sits at piano surrounded by other performers


During its heyday, the City of Overtown was often referred to as ‘the Harlem of the South’, because its story is akin to that of New York’s Harlem – and on the National Jazz circuit, musicians often played in both Harlems, as they made their way from one club to another, playing for audiences around the country.  

And in Overtown, stars like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, and Josephine Baker not only performed, but also spent the night because of segregation laws in Miami and Miami Beach. Unable to stay the night after a gig, they went “over town” to hotels owned by Black proprietors.

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. Du Bois, author Zora Neale Hurston, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Martin Luther King and Malcom X frequented the area and so did Muhammed Ali.


For more information on Overtown: Past, Present, and Future, visit The Betsy Hotel's Zen and the Art of Overtown.

Reserve your seats!

Live music with a side of dinner or brunch - and a guaranteed table. 
Make your reservations for LT Steak & Seafood below.


The Betsy’s 11th Annual Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival is co-produced by Carole Ann Taylor, jazz singer & business leader and Deborah Plutzik Briggs, VP Arts and Community Engagement @ The Betsy Hotel,  with support from the Ocean Drive Association, City of Miami Beach,  Greater Miami and Miami Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Betsy Community Fund @ the Miami Foundation, PG Family Foundation, Hampton Art Lovers, Florida International University Miami Beach Urban Studios, Barry University Center for Immigration Studies, SEOPW Community Redevelopment Agency, and Miami To Go.