Jazz is in the Air – Deering Estate Valentine’s Day Concert

Enjoy a night under the stars with loved ones and friends this Valentine’s Day at The Deering Estate’s annual Moonlight and Music Valentine’s Day Concert.  On Sunday, February 14th, 2021 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Deering Estate will be hosting an outdoor celebration of love filled with music, food and family fun. Grab your lawn chairs, blankets and best picnic food. Sit back, relax and enjoy the sounds of this year’s young featured jazz artist, Melinda Rose with an opening performance by Leesa Richards.

Danielle Zamanillo

The concert kicks off at 8 p.m. with opening artist Leesa Richards who was immersed into the Latin music scene after moving to Miami and touring with notable artists such as Gloria Estefan and Julio Iglesias. Although her last album “Mother’s Child” showcased her love for soul music, her newfound passion for jazz will be on display in her upcoming debut at The Deering Estate. The concert will continue with this year’s featured artist and fellow contestant on The Voice, Melinda Rose. Melinda is a young, Miami native jazz singer who has performed not only on television but in festivals and competitions around the world and recently opened for Emily Estefan at the Coconut Grove Arts

Festival, embodying traditional jazz with her own quirky yet refreshing twist.

The night would not be complete of course without a decadent dinner. Not a cook? Well you’re in luck. Joanna’s Marketplace will be catering food available for pre-order that is sure to delight your Valentine. Please call the catering department at 305-661-5777 to place your order by Friday, February 12th at 3 p.m. Limited refreshments and food will also be available at the concert for purchase.

Both Leesa and Melinda took the time to answer some questions about not only their musical careers but how music has impacted their lives as a whole. We also get a look into how these women are giving back by sharing their love and knowledge for music with their local communities.

Q: Leesa, tell me a little about your journey and what it has been like transitioning from being a background singer for many well-known artists, to now stepping out into the spotlight and making a name for yourself as a solo artist.

A: My journey as an artist, as a performer has been surprisingly organic. Throughout high school I studied both visual art and dance very seriously and ultimately chose to study dance at North Carolina School of the Arts for college. Singing was never actually a part of my plan but as more opportunities were presented to me, including touring as a background vocalist, song writing, studio sessions and solo performances, singing became my focus and my passion. Background vocals is an art form unto itself and I really love the energy of singing with other singers, the discipline and specificity of it. However, as an artist I have always worked to find my own voice. I have been writing songs for quite a while, including all the songs on my cd, “Mother’s Child,” which is more of a soul project.  For the last four or five years I have really been focused on my love of jazz and my upcoming album will reflect that.

Q: What are some things as an artist that you do to give back to the community and help other aspiring musicians out there?

A: I was previously a board member for the Florida chapter of the Grammy Organization and was a part of their advocacy committee. We worked to expand and improve the rights of and gain fair compensation for music makers across several platforms. Individually, I speak to students through workshops and forums to share my experiences. It is especially rewarding to  mentor individual artists, encouraging them, and supporting them on their journeys.

Q: Would you say living in Miami and performing with all these huge names in the Latin music industry such as Gloria Estefan and Julio Iglesias, has influenced your style of music?

A: Without a doubt. I am a Detroit girl, so I grew up in a city that absolutely loves music, and I mean all kinds of music: pop, soul, jazz, techno, and rock. Moving to Miami, I was immersed in Latin music, which I was for the most part, unfamiliar with. Working with Gloria, Jon Secada, Julio Iglesias, and others, not only introduced me to popular Latin recording artists but also to an extended community of local musicians whom I have had the opportunity to work with on a regular basis. The musicianship here in Miami is world class! But, about the Latin influence, I am quite sure I could not get through a gig now without at least interpreting one song with a Latin rhythm. 

Q: Melinda, at what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a performer or was this something you knew you wanted to do since a young age?

A:  I was in a 5th grade production of Annie Jr. in Elementary school and of course I played Ms. Hannigan, the villain. A few weeks before rehearsals began, I broke my leg playing soccer and they tried to recast me, but I said, “NO I can do it!”

I did the entire prep and 8 shows with a very large cast on my leg and I could hear audience members whisper as I performed. On the closing night, my principal announced to the entire audience that my leg was broken and that I had done the show despite adversity. The audience,

and cast, ERUPTED in applause and gave me a standing ovation. I was bawling! To this day I chase that feeling. Ever since then I always told myself, “How can I feel like that again?” and just chase a life on the stage. I knew then that there would never be a feeling greater than that one. 

Q: Could you describe what it was like being on The Voice and working with Kelly Clarkson? Perhaps a favorite memory? 

A: Being on The Voice was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my days. I was so lucky to spend my summer with 50 other incredible singers who all want the same thing as you. Most people would be terrified by that, but I was inspired by it. Kelly Clarkson is just as cool as she seems on TV. She was such an encouraging figure and her advice is golden. I was lucky to have been able to work with her and then be invited onto her talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show!

While my experience started out with sunshine and rainbows, it soon took a turn when my brother who was back in Miami was called for his heart transplant and I was in California for filming. I wanted to go home in case the worst happened, but he convinced me to stay. That very morning on set we were going to meet our “mega mentor”, that we have NO idea who it may be. That emotional morning, I walked onto the stage and met the incredible, Taylor Swift. This experience for me left me speechless because my brother is Taylors absolute biggest fan. He has all her album names tattooed to his body. That morning he was in surgery and I could not even tell him what happened because he didn’t wake up for 8 days. This was my favorite memory from the show because while I was terrified for my brother, seeing Taylor was the universe’s way of telling me, “You are exactly where you need to be in this moment.”

Q: What was one major thing you took away from being on the show?

A: My biggest take away from the show was that I should take myself out of the box that I have been trying to squeeze myself into for years. A lot of times in jazz culture, other genres are seen as subordinate or “not real music” and you get “vibed” for singing other things like pop. Being there, I sang standards, Sam Smith and Mariah Carey and I do them all well and I enjoy singing that stuff, so I just decided, I am going to sing it. I love jazz and that style, but I always looked at other genres as music I sing for fun in the car or shower and I want to sing that stuff on stage too because it is real music to me!

Q:  Is there any new music or projects you are working on that you are excited for and can share a little about?

A: Pre Covid, I was moving to New York City to finally further my professional career, however I was thrown for a loop last March. I have since relocated to my hometown, Miami, Fl and I teach High School chorus at my alma mater, Miami Arts Charter School. I did my bachelor’s degree in music education, so it wasn’t an odd choice. Like everyone, this year has been rough, especially as a performing musician so I have been taking time to recalibrate my dreams, write music and perform around Miami wherever I can. I don’t have an album coming out or anything, but that will be in the works in the near future so keep an eye out for that! I do record music often and you can find all my music at soundcloud.com/melindarose. Also, on Apple Music and Spotify is my Christmas EP titled, A Puerto Rican Christmas, featuring two original holiday tunes written by yours truly.

Don’t miss out on this magical night. General admission is $60 per person granting you access to seating on the North Side of the Front lawn, in front of the two Historical Museum Houses, in the Royal Palm Grove and on the two Boat Basin Jetties. Remember,  social distancing must be practiced and groups larger than 10 people cannot gather. Purchase a Lawn Box for $240 for your own personal viewing area on the Main Lawn. Lawn Boxes hold a maximum of 4 people and are socially distanced from one another. If you have a group larger than 4, boxes side-by-side can be reserved. Become a member of the Deering Estate Foundation today! Members receive a 10% discount on lawn boxes and general admission with a promo code. Prior to purchasing tickets, please contact the Deering Estate Foundation at 305-235-1668 (press 3, then ext. 263) or send an email to request the member discount promo code. Tickets are limited! Make sure to purchase your tickets online in advanced. With Deering Estate’s online ticketing system there is no need to worry about long admission lines. You can now reserve entry times, ensuring a safe distance between visitors.

Due to COVID-19 regulations, please note that guests must practice social distancing, wear face coverings (ages 2 and up), and are not allowed to gather in groups larger than 10 people. Sanitation stations are available throughout the event. You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you must remain stationary and maintain physical distancing.

For more ticketing and event information, please visit the Deering Estate website. Sales are non-refundable, rain or shine.

Danielle Zamanillo is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is currently an intern at the Deering Estate.

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