Back in the days of the Sir John Knight Beat, the Harlem Square, Rockland Palace, Birdland Fiesta, Mary Elizabeth Hotel, Cafe Society, Red Tap, and many more, the streets of Overtown were filled with music spilling out of the many clubs, bars, and restaurants that lined its streets.
For now, those days are gone. But the 116-year-old historic Bethel AME Church remembers them, and the Overtown Music Project's gospel brunch celebrated them over the weekend.
See the cut for a short video documentary, featuring the great Bobby Stringer, whose soul shone through like a beaming ray of sunlight on a Sunday (even though it was Saturday).
Almost 50 years ago, Sam Cooke made one of the greatest live albums of all time -- Live at the Harlem Square, 1963 -- in this neighborhood.
During pre-fight training in the early '60s, Cassius Clay jogged through Overtown's streets, trailed by massive groups of neighborhood kids. Ray Charles used to perform and record in the area. And Martin Luther King Jr. would visit to relax, unwind, and seek inspiration for sermon writing.
Ike and Tina Turner fought and made up on NW Second Avenue. And long before she was famous, a 13-year-old church music prodigy named Aretha Franklin sang gospel in high school auditoriums.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Patti Labelle always had a loyal Overtown following. And Dionne Warwick got her start here too. Sam and Dave were Miami boys. Little Willie John loved this city and he sounded just like Dizzy Jones.
Before there was Blowfly, there was Clarence Reid and The Delmyras. And of course, the great WMBM featured Milton "Butterball" Smith and King Coleman, without whom there'd never have been a DJ Khaled.
And these are just a few footnotes from Overtown's momentous musical history.